The metabolic health of Americans is incredibly low, even among groups of people that seem within normal weight. Did you know that only 1 in 8 Americans are considered metabolically healthy? That's only12% of the American population! When we come to fully understand these statistics, we realize it very much makes sense that the #1 killer in the world is heart disease. But a new weight-loss drug that produced incredible results in 2021 may be able to help alter the current direction of American health. Let's get into it: what is Semaglutide, how does it work, and are you a candidate?
The Obesity Pandemic
According to data from the 2017-2020 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, prevalence of obesity among adults in the US is 41.9%. That is an 11.4% increase from the survey taken for the years 1999-2000. In the same time frame, prevalence of severe obesity increased from 4.7% to 9.2%. (1) For decades, American's have fought a losing battle with obesity, which is not a coincidence as processed foods have become easier and cheaper to eat, while knowledge on how to properly fuel your body has not been emulated.
Obesity is associated with an increased risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer. Obesity is also associated with poorer mental health outcomes and reduced quality of life. As researchers are now finding out, your gut is linked to your brain. There are approximately 100 billion neurons in your brain. Interestingly, there are approximately 500 million neurons in your gut that are directly connected to your brain through nerves in your nervous system. (2) In short, what you eat affects your physical body, emotional health, and brain activity. To read more about the brain-gut connection, click here.
The realization that obesity is in fact a disease, is important. It's not all about counting calories, lack of will-power, or laziness. It involves a lot more, like our brain and hormones. When we learn to recognize the role our brain plays in our diet, and educate ourselves more on our bodies, we can achieve true weight loss - and maintain it. So how do we achieve healthy communication from our gut to our brain, and is there a "kick-start" to doing so?
What is Semaglutide?
Weight loss medications have been around for decades, but historically have had significant side effect profiles or even volatile efficacy rates. Semaglutide, an injectable medication initially developed as a treatment for Type 2 Diabetes, is the first drug treatment to be FDA approved for weight management since 2014, according to the FDA press release. The medication has produced jaw-dropping clinical trial results in early 2021. Participants of these newer trials lost an average of 37 pounds through the combination of Semaglutide and a diet and exercise program. (3)
“This is a game-changer,” said UAB’s Timothy Garvey, M.D., co-author of the JAMA article and Butterworth Professor of Medicine in the Department of Nutrition Sciences. “We have not seen this degree of weight loss with any previous medication. More than 50 percent of trial participants are losing 15 percent of their body weight, and anywhere between a third and 40 percent of participants are losing 20 percent of their body weight. That is beginning to close the gap with bariatric surgery. I think this truly gives us a very powerful tool to treat obesity as a disease.” (3)
Semaglutide is now FDA approved for obesity, overweight individuals, and weight management.
Thanks to Elon Musk, more people are finding out about Semaglutide. When a Twitter follower praised Musk on his weight-loss transformation, the billionaire replied that his secret was "fasting" and "Wegovy", or a brand name of Semaglutide. These are real results people!
How Does Semaglutide Work?
Before we talk about how Semaglutide can help you lose weight, we need to first understand what GLP-1 is. Glucagon-like-peptide-1, or GLP-1, is an incretin hormone that plays a role in your appetite and digestion. An incretin is a type of hormone that helps to reduce blood glucose levels and stimulate the secretion of insulin. GLP-1 is released in the small intestine when we've eaten a meal, and stimulates the release of insulin. In people with diabetes, the GLP-1 that is produced by the body isn't enough to control glucose and insulin levels, so drugs that mimic this hormone, such as Semaglutide, are prescribed to boost the body's natural response.
Semaglutide is the synthetic form of GLP-1, and lasts a lot longer than the naturally-occurring hormone, hence why it's only injected once a week. The injection stimulates the release of insulin by the pancreas after eating, even before blood sugars start to rise. It inhibits the release of glucagon by the pancreas, which is a hormone that causes the liver to release its stored sugar into the bloodstream. Semaglutide also slows glucose absorption into the bloodstream by delaying gastric emptying, meaning it makes you feel more satisfied and fuller longer after a meal.
GLP-1 agonists (or Semaglutide in this case) at high levels act on parts of the brain involved in appetite regulation to decrease caloric intake. Combined with diet and exercise, it is a great option for medically assisted weight loss.
Who is a Candidate?
Not everyone is eligible for treatment with Semaglutide. Those with a BMI greater than or equal to 30 without diabetes, or those with a BMI greater than or equal to 27 with comorbidity (type 1 Diabetes, Thyroid cancer, ***). At your consultation, your medical provider will ask for an extensive health history and take labs and to ensure taking Semaglutide is safe for you.
You are NOT a good candidate for Semaglutide if you have any of the following: diabetic retinopathy, low blood sugar, decreased kidney function, pancreatitis, medullary thyroid cancer (or a family history of medullary thyroid carcinoma), or multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2.
Final Thoughts on Semaglutide
The Semaglutide injection is a kick-start to your wellness/weight-loss journey. It is not a medication to be used forever, nor is it to be used without a proper diet and exercise program. Studies have shown that when patients cease the injections without life intervention, the weight can and does come back. It is vital to your health and your weight-loss journey to educate yourself about consumption of healthy foods and get in daily exercise. For the best results, we recommend you get started with a health coach prior to or during your Semaglutide injections. (We've linked a great resource and health coach below who actually helped launch Semaglutide!)
If you're ready to get started on your weight-loss journey, and transform your life into one of health and activity, reach out to us by utilizing the contact info below. Our Board-Certified Physician Assistants have 30+ years of experience and will go above and beyond to make sure your health goals are achieved.
The Lotus Medspa
14743 Old Bandera Rd, Bldg 7
Helotes, Texas 78023
Recommended Health and Fitness Coach:
@EmmonsHealth on Instagram
(1) Obesity is a Common, Serious, and Costly Disease. (2022, July 20). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html
(2) Robertson, R., PhD. (2020, August 20). The Gut-Brain Connection: How it Works and The Role of Nutrition. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/gut-brain-connection
(3) Pope, A. (2022, February 21). Who will benefit from new ‘game-changing’ weight-loss drug semaglutide? - News. UAB News. https://www.uab.edu/news/research/item/11961-who-will-benefit-from-new-game-changing-weight-loss-drug-semaglutide
(Data Chart) Wilding, J. P., Batterham, R. L., Calanna, S., Davies, M., Van Gaal, L. F., Lingvay, I., McGowan, B. M., Rosenstock, J., Tran, M. T., Wadden, T. A., Wharton, S., Yokote, K., Zeuthen, N., & Kushner, R. F. (2021). Once-Weekly Semaglutide in Adults with Overweight or Obesity. New England Journal of Medicine, 384(11), 989–1002. https://doi.org/10.1056/nejmoa2032183
(Novo Nordisk Clinical Trial) Novo Nordisk A/S. (2021). Effect and Safety of Semaglutide 2.4 mg Once-weekly in Subjects With Overweight or Obesity. U.S. National Library of Medicine, NCT03548935. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMoa2032183