A new weight loss drug is being called a "game changer" by scientists who hope the medication can help tackle the growing obesity crisis in both the United States -- where around two-thirds of the population is either overweight or obese -- and around the world. The drug appears to be successful due to its effects on the brain, which helps suppress appetite.
According to Science Alert, the study comprised of 2,000 obese adults located in 16 different countries. One group was given a weekly dose of Type 2 diabetes medication called semaglutide; the other was given a placebo. In addition to the drug or placebo, all participants underwent a "lifestyle intervention," which promoted healthy living.
Though all participants lost weight at the end of the trial, the placebo group lost an "insignificant" amount. In contrast, those who took semaglutide saw incredible results. The average participant lost 14.9 percent of his or her body weight, with nearly a third boasting even more -- around 20 percent.
This means semaglutide is twice as effective as the existing drugs currently on the market for weight loss. In fact, experts have claimed it is nearly as effective as weight loss surgery.
"No other drug has come close to producing this level of weight loss – this really is a game-changer," explained obesity researcher Rachel Batterham from University College London.
"For the first time, people can achieve through drugs what was only possible through weight loss surgery," she added.
That said, doctors have warned that changes to lifestyle are still important, both for heathy living and to avoid weight gain after stopping the medication.
"While drugs like this may prove useful in the short term for obtaining rapid weight loss in severe obesity, they are not a magic bullet for preventing or treating less severe degrees of obesity," cautioned Tom Sanders, an emeritus professor at King's College London, who wasn't involved with the study.
"Public health measures that encourage behavioral changes such as regular physical activity and moderating dietary energy intake are still needed," he concluded.
The spotlight on maintaining a healthy weight has been renewed after studies have shown that the novel coronavirus is deadlier for those who are overweight or obese. In fact, an artificial intelligence-based matrix calculated how likely an uninfected person was to die from COVID-19 if infected.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the algorithm found that, while age was the highest predictor of mortality, the next highest factor was body mass index, known as BMI.