Due to the approval of two new promising medications in the medical weight loss world, the last year has been very exciting. In 2014, the FDA approved the last medication to treat obesity, and the weight loss benefit topped out at less than 10%, so there was no need for this new medication. As you may recall, the FDA approved semaglutide (Wegovy) in the summer of 2021, which gave patients the best weight loss we have seen to date - an average of 15% in weight loss per patient.
Lilly's study, published in July of 2022, examined the effectiveness of their new diabetes medication, tirzepatide (Mounjaro), for treating obesity. A clinical trial in which tirzepatide was combined with a lifestyle intervention led to an average weight loss of around 21% among patients who took the highest dosage of the drug, which was the highest weight loss ever observed with medication up to this point in time. The use of tirzepatide for obesity treatment is not yet approved by the FDA. Still, it is expected to be approved shortly, and this could be a game-changer for patients suffering from obesity problems. You need to know some facts to better understand this promising new weight loss medication.
In treating type 2 diabetes, tirzepatide is a once-weekly injectable medication manufactured by Lilly that is branded as MounjaroTM. It is made available through prescription by most healthcare providers.
As far as type 2 diabetes medications go, tirzepatide is in a class of its own when it comes to treating it. The single molecule mimics insulin and glucagon-like peptide-1, which help lower blood sugar in the body. Several studies have shown that both hormones have diminished effects in persons with type 2 diabetes and can result in elevated blood glucose levels. Therefore, targeting these receptors in the design of a medication for the treatment of diabetes isn't a new concept. For years, various GLP-1 receptor agonists have been used to treat obesity, type-2 diabetes, and various other disorders. These medications are similar to the naturally occurring GLP-1 hormone produced in the body. The combination of an HCG and a GLP-1 is a new way of administering a hormone and has shown even greater benefits when compared to administering each hormone individually. As a result of its action on GLP-1 and GIP receptors throughout the body, tirzepatide is beneficial for reducing blood sugar levels and losing weight due to its increased insulin sensitivity, increased insulin secretion, slowed stomach emptying, and reduction of food intake.
In adults with type 2 diabetes, tirzepatide is used with dietary changes and regular exercise to improve blood sugar levels. A clinical trial conducted on people with type 2 diabetes showed that the drug significantly improved their haemoglobin A1c levels when taking the highest dosage - a 2.3% decrease when taking the highest dose. Compared with Ozempic 1 mg (a common GLP-1 receptor agonist used for type 2 diabetes), this represents a reduction of 1.9% compared to long-acting insulin, which shows a reduction of 1.4%. In addition, 95% of patients prescribed tirzepatide achieved an A1c of less than 7.0%, indicating that their diabetes had been effectively managed.
According to clinical trials, tirzepatide effectively reduces weight, but it has not yet been FDA-approved for obesity. A study that was published in July of 2022 on the effect of tirzepatide on weight loss, specifically in overweight or obese individuals, showed that at the highest dose used, people who were taking the highest dosage of this diabetes medication were able to shed approximately 21% of their body weight on average. To put this into context, Wegovy, the current most effective FDA-approved medication for obesity, was shown in clinical trials to reduce fat by an average of 15%. Older medications can also help patients lose their excess body weight, such as SaxendaR, QsymiaR, and ContraveR, which can help them lose around 5-10% of their body weight on average.
The dual action of tirzepatide on GIP and GLP-1 receptors accounts for its remarkable weight loss effect. Acting on the GIP and GLP-1 in the brain's appetite centre helps reduce food intake. In addition to slowing stomach emptying, GLP-1 also improves insulin sensitivity and promotes weight loss by improving fat storage function in several ways.
Like any medication, tirzepatide has several beneficial effects, but the drug may also have some side effects. Tirzepatide has similar side effects to GLP-1 receptor agonists such as Wegovy, among which nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation, heartburn, abdominal pain, and stomach cramps are the most common ones. Headaches, dizziness, and an increased heart rate are also possible, although these effects are less common than others. The possibility of gallbladder disease is another potential side effect, and several other uncommon side effects have also been reported. As a result of clinical trials, it was found that only 6.2% of patients receiving the highest dose of tirzepatide discontinued the medication due to adverse effects versus 2.6% of patients receiving a placebo.
With great anticipation that tirzepatide will be approved by the FDA to treat obesity. However, other FDA-approved medications are presently available to help you lose weight. Saxenda and Wegovy are two GLP-1 receptor agonists that have also been shown to improve blood sugar levels and decrease body weight. For patients who are struggling with cravings, ContraveR is also an effective option, especially if they are struggling with weight loss. Please visit Weightloss Coach's Medication Resource to learn more about these options.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to medications; however, studies have shown that when medication is combined with lifestyle changes, patients lose 2x more weight as when they use medications alone. To help you reach your health goals, Weight loss Coach’s doctors work with you on physical activity, mindset shifts, nutrition, and medication, if appropriate, to help you to achieve your health goals. We may be right if you want a sustainable and personalised program. Take our quiz now to find out if you're eligible.