One third (35%) of people who took a new drug for treating obesity lost more than one-fifth (greater than or equal to 20%) of their total body weight, according to a major global study involving UCL researchers.
The findings from the large-scale international trial, published today in the New England Journal for Medicine, are being hailed as a “gamechanger” for improving the health of people with obesity and could play a major part in helping the UK to reduce the impact of diseases, such as COVID-19.
The drug, semaglutide, works by hijacking the body’s own appetite regulating system in the brain leading to reduced hunger and calorie intake.
Rachel Batterham, Professor of Obesity, Diabetes and Endocrinology who leads the Centre for Obesity Research at UCL and the UCLH Centre for Weight Management, is one of the principal authors on the paper which involved almost 2,000 people in 16 countries.
Professor Batterham (UCL Medicine) said: “The findings of this study represent a major breakthrough for improving the health of people with obesity. Three quarters (75%) of people who received semaglutide 2.4mg lost more than 10% of their body weight and more than one-third lost more than 20%. No other drug has come close to producing this level of weight loss — this really is a gamechanger. For the first time, people can achieve through drugs what was only possible through weight-loss surgery.”