University of Leeds researchers have discovered that a drug being developed to treat diabetes also shows promise in helping people shed kilos quickly by limiting their cravings for food, according to a report in Science Daily.
In a 12-week study, semaglutide was given to 28 heavily overweight people with a body mass index (BMI) range of 30kg to 45kg/m2. Study participants lost 5kg on average over the period after taking weekly doses of the drug.
Researchers found that the drug suppressed the appetite of participants, who not only chose to eat smaller portions but who were also less inclined to prefer foods with a higher fat content. The study reported that the average daily energy intake was almost a quarter lower after 12 weeks of dosing with the drug.
This is the first time scientists have observed the effect of targeting specific appetite receptors in the brain with a drug.
The university’s Professor of Psycho-Biology, John Blundell, said: “What was striking was the potency of the drug’s action. We saw results in 12 weeks which may take as long as six months with other anti-obesity medication.
“The drug reduced hunger, cravings for food and the sensation of wanting to eat. These had previously been thought to stem from different parts of the brain.’’
Semaglutide, which is being trialled by Danish company Novo Nordisk for diabetes, has a chemical structure that is very similar to the body’s GLP-1 hormone. This naturally occurring hormone is believed to act on the brain’s appetite control centre.
“A drug that reduces daily food intake by about a quarter with a substantial reduction in body fat will help some people to feel more in control of their lives and will help prevent the onset of poor health that often arises from obesity,” Professor Blundell said.
The research has been published in the journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism.
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