Weight-loss injectable, semaglutide, has gained popularity in the past year with those suffering from overweight and obesity, but are these new drugs really all they’re made up to be?
Curtin school of population health lecturer Blake Lawrence says the semaglutide injectables are seeing great results.
“These new drugs have shown to be quite effective at helping people to lose weight in a relatively period of short time,” he says.
“The challenge is, once you stop using these injectables, the weight is likely to come back quite quickly.”
Dr Lawrence says the popularity of these injectables stems from Australia’s dependence upon US and UK markets.
“I think that this is aligned with the fact that our cultures are very similar,” he says.
“New pharmaceutical medications that are launched in the US and in UK arrive in Australia and are adopted quite extensively.”
Developed in 2012, the injectables are now being administered weekly as a medication to help obese and overweight people drop weight quickly.
Commonly known as Ozempic, Wegovy and Rybelsus, these drugs are developed to combat type two diabetes by reducing appetite and in turn blood sugar levels.
Body Balancing Nutrition’s senior dietician Liran Maty says obesity is the world’s most complicated health condition.
“The world has been dealing with obesity for decades and really there is no cure in sight.”
She says new drugs are frequently administered but none of them function as a ‘long-term’ solutions to weight loss.
“Usually people would look for a solution that is short term and then just expect to maintain it afterwards,” Maty says.
Ms Maty has been in the industry for 17 years and believes lifestyle changes are behind sustainable weight loss.
“If there is one thing that I can say looking back, the one thing that works is making real habitual, lifestyle changes and education around [weight loss].”
She says there is a knowledge gap when it comes to understanding healthy lifestyle choices.
“That is where my issue with injectables begins.”
She says “education” and “creating good healthy-eating habits” are key, instead of needing to “rely on this magical drug.”
Dr Lawrence warns against the potential of long-term side effects.
“The challenge is we don’t know what the long-term consequences are for your health.”
He says long-term use of the injectables can result in drug dependence .
“If you were to use these injectables for one or 10 years, are they really something that people are going to want to have to use for the rest of their lives to keep the weight off?”
He says semaglutide injectables do have a place in today’s society but they aren’t the be-all and end-all cure that many people think they are.
“So on the one hand, we want to try to address the problem,” he says, “but conversely if the solutions aren’t effective long-term then it does raise questions as to whether or not these are really going to address the issue.”