Anti-diabetic drugs with glucose-regulating effects have been shown to have a significant weight-reducing effect in obese patients, with tirzepatid providing a weight reduction of more than 20%, comparable to bariatric surgery.
Semaglutide had the same good effect in a study among teenagers 4 , and a similar study is underway regarding tirzepatid.
Semaglutide and tirzepatide are peptides in the incretin class that mimic intestinal hormones and stimulate insulin secretion. Semaglutide works by activating the GLP-1 receptor, while tirzepatid works by activating both the GLP-1 and GIP receptors. Clinical effects include increased satiety, delayed gastric emptying, increased insulin and insulin sensitivity, decreased glucagon, and lower blood glucose levels. Side effects include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, constipation, and diarrhea.
In a direct comparative randomized trial, tirzepatid outperformed semaglutide 7 in terms of glucose control. Both drugs had highly beneficial effects on lipids, resulting in lower triglycerides, lower LDL cholesterol, and higher HDL cholesterol, as well as lower blood pressure.
These drugs are very expensive and must be taken for 12–18 months before the full effect occurs. And if the patient is unable to change their lifestyle, it is likely that the weight will increase again when the drug treatment stops.
The global obesity epidemic has worsened, with 650 million obese adults and 340 million between the ages of 5 and 18. New drugs represent a breakthrough, providing weight reduction, cardiovascular risk factors, glucose regulation, reverse fatty liver, and reducing the effects obesity has on osteoarthritis and cancer.
The downsides are the price, the side effects, the fact that the drugs have to be given as injections, and the risk of relapse as soon as the treatment is over.
Semaglutide is also available as a tablet, but this form is much less effective at helping people lose weight. But this means that in the future, it might be possible to make oral drugs that have the same effects. Several similar new drugs are in the works, which could lead to more competition and lower, more reasonable prices.