DENVER, Colo. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — America is on the verge of a weight loss revolution, and it’s about time. The CDC reports almost 42 percent of adults and 20 million children in the US are obese. More than 173 billion dollars is spent on healthcare costs associated with it, but the tide may be turning as new weight loss drugs are helping millions of people shed pounds faster than ever before. But are they all they’re hyped up to be? Are they better than weight loss surgeries? Ivanhoe asked the experts to find out.
Ozempic is a diabetes drug, but demand for the once-a-week shot is skyrocketing for weight loss. The active ingredient, semaglutide, has been approved by the FDA for weight loss under the brand name Wegovy and can reduce a person’s body weight by 20 percent.
Michael A. Snyder, MD, Bariatric Surgeon at Denver Center for Bariatric Surgery explains, “The thing we have to understand about the drugs is, like anything, they’re only as good as the person using them. And it’s just another tool.”
Semaglutide is a GLP-1 inhibitor. Snyder says it works but side effects include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Doctor Snyder says, “Kind of slows down digestion at the stomach level, which makes you full all the time and lose your hunger. That’s really what people experience.”
But it costs $1,000 a month and people will most likely need to be on it for life.
Doctor Snyder explains, “This is not a ‘one and done’, this is not a bootcamp for six weeks and then go on your own way.”
On the other hand, bariatric surgery refers to several different procedures that reshape the gastrointestinal track so it holds less food.
“Bariatric surgery is the most effective treatment out there for notable severe weight loss issues.” says Doctor Snyder.
Risks include hernias, gallstones, and low blood sugar. On average, how much can people expect to lose?
Doctor Snyder says, “If you are 250 pounds with a bypass, you’re going to lose about 84 pounds. A sleeve, you’re going to lose 73.5 pounds. And medication, about 40 pounds.”
But Doctor Snyder stresses, whichever one you choose, it will only work if you’re committed to losing weight for life.
An even more powerful drug, known as tirzepatide may soon be approved for weight loss and several other new medications are coming down the pipeline. But we must mention, studies on these drugs only span about two years, so long-term side effects are still not known. And Doctor Snyder says that in every study he’s read, the drugs are only successful long-term if you use them with a dietician who combine them with appropriate diet and behavioral changes.
Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor and Matt Goldschmidt, Videographer.
THE WEIGHT LOSS REVOLUTION: DRUGS VS. SURGERY
BACKGROUND: Abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health can be defined as being overweight or being obese. A body mass index (BMI) over 25 is considered overweight, and over 30 is obese. Rates of overweight and obesity continue to grow in adults and children. Today, more people are obese than underweight in every region except sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Once considered a problem only in high-income countries, both issues are now dramatically on the rise in low and middle-income countries, particularly in urban settings. The vast majority of overweight or obese children live in developing countries, where the rate of increase has been more than 30 percent higher than that of developed countries.
WEIGHTLOSS OPTIONS: When it comes to battling weight loss, there are many options to choose what is the best fit for you. Gastric bypass surgery is where the stomach is stapled to make a smaller pouch, then, part of the small intestine is bypassed causing you to absorb less of the food you eat. Sleeve gastrectomy is a surgery that involves removing a substantial portion of the stomach, so that patients feel full after smaller meals. Adjustable gastric banding restricts the amount of food the stomach can hold by placing an inflatable silicone band around the upper part of the stomach. Laparoscopic bilary pancreatic diversion with duodenal switch surgery is a standard bariatric procedure that has been performed for over 30 years and has the highest associated excess weight loss of all approved operations. Modified duodenal switch (SIPS) procedure combines both restrictive and malabsorptive surgical components that allow patients to maximize weight loss quickly and maintain weight loss long term. A non-surgical approach is endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG). This is a newer, less invasive procedure that reduces the size of the stomach by 70– 80% using an endoscopic suturing device.
BREAKTHROUGH IN OBESITY RESEARCH: Researchers have discovered new insights into the regulation of fat metabolism. The focus of their study lies within the star-shaped non-neuronal cells in the brain, known as ‘astrocytes’. The group announced successful animal experiments using the newly developed drug ‘KDS2010′, which allowed the mice to lose weight without dietary restrictions. The researchers observed significant slowing in the pacemaker firing of the GABRA5 neurons and continued with the study by attempting to inhibit the activity of these GABRA5 neurons using chemogenetic methods. This in turn caused a reduction in heat production (energy consumption) in the brown fat tissue, leading to fat accumulation and weight gain. On the other hand, when the GABRA5 neurons in the hypothalamus were activated, the mice were able to achieve a successful weight reduction. Director C. Justin Lee from the Center for Cognition and Sociality (CCS) within the Institute for Basic Science (IBS) said, “Given that obesity has been designated by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the ’21st-century emerging infectious disease,’ we look to KDS2010 as a potential next-generation obesity treatment that can effectively combat obesity without suppressing appetite.”
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