Semaglutide reduces excess body fat in people with obesity

Semaglutide reduces excess body fat in people with obesity

In adults with
obesity or overweight, weekly treatment with the glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP1)
receptor agonist semaglutide leads to reduced excess body fat and increased
lean body mass, according to an industry-sponsored study presented virtually at
ENDO 2021, the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting.

“Our findings
suggest that semaglutide, through body weight loss and improvement of body
composition, has the potential to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes
and stroke in people with overweight or obesity,” said lead researcher
John Wilding, D.M., F.R.C.P., of the University of Liverpool.

Obesity poses many
health risks. Excess fat in the abdominal area, particularly fat in and around
abdominal organs, also called visceral fat, contributes to major causes of
death and disability, including heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure,
cancer, fatty liver disease and diabetes.

The study, called
STEP 1, included 1,961 adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 27 or higher with
at least one weight-related health condition, or a BMI of 30 or higher, without
diabetes. A person is classified as overweight if their BMI is 25 to 29.9, and
the range for obesity is a BMI of 30 or more.

The study
participants were randomly assigned to inject themselves once weekly for 68
weeks with either 2.4 milligrams of semaglutide or a placebo. Semaglutide,
already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration at the lower dose of
1 mg weekly as a treatment for type 2 diabetes, is a synthetic version of the
naturally occurring hormone glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP1). It acts on appetite
centers in the brain and in the gut, and produces feelings of fullness.

As part of the
study, the researchers used dual-energy absorptiometry (DEXA), a technique that
is widely used clinically to assess body composition, to monitor the effects of
therapy on total body fat and fat around the stomach area in 140 of the

They found
treatment with semaglutide improved body composition by reducing excess body
fat, including abdominal fat, and increasing the proportion of lean body mass,
or the amount of weight someone carries that is not body fat. The more body
weight a participant lost, the greater the improvement in body composition.

In February 2021,
the researchers published findings from the STEP 1 trial in The New England
Journal of Medicine
 showing that patients who
injected semaglutide lost close to 15% of their body weight, on average,
compared with 2.4% among patients receiving the placebo. More than one-third of
participants receiving semaglutide lost more than 20% of their weight. Many
patients experienced improvements in risk factors for heart disease, blood
sugar levels and quality of life.