Are Weight Loss Drugs Really a Magic Bullet?

The headlines are compelling, with phrases like, “The Obesity Revolution,” and “A new ‘miracle’ weight-loss drug really works.” The before-and-after pictures are inspiring. People who have struggled for decades to shed pounds are finally finding an effective strategy.

The last few years saw breakthroughs in treatments for obesity, with new weight-loss medicines dominating recent news reports. The medicines, semaglutide (Ozempic, Wegovy) and tirzepatide (Mounjaro, Zepbound), work by slowing stomach-emptying and decreasing appetite. They’re usually administered by weekly injection.  Clinical trials boasted success comparable to surgery. Celebrities like Oprah Winfrey shared encouraging personal stories. 

The scientific literature behind the headlines is impressive as well. Those taking the medicines lose, on average, 10% to 20% of their body weight. Originally developed for Type 2 diabetes, the drugs are well known to improve control of blood sugar. In December, we also learned that in people with cardiovascular disease who are overweight or obese, semaglutide appears to reduce major adverse cardiac events by 20%.

Excerpted from NPR

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