A new drug could help reduce weight by suppressing a person's appetite. QUT

A Danish pharmaceutical firm has developed a drug that can help people reduce weight. The drug called semaglutide has been approved for use by the UK National Health Service.

It has been developed by Novo Nordisk and is already being sold under the brand name Wegovy in America, Denmark, and Norway.

The UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has said that the drug is "safe, effective, and affordable." NICE recommends that it be used alongside a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity. It works by suppressing the appetite of the user and mimicking the hormone glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), which is released after eating. It essentially makes people feel fuller.

"For some people losing weight is a real challenge, which is why a medicine like semaglutide is a welcome option," said Helen Knight, director of medicines evaluation at NICE. "It won't be available to everyone. Our committee has made specific recommendations to ensure it remains value for money for the taxpayer," she added.

It is injected once a week and can help people reduce their weight by over 10%. The NICE recommends its use only in cases where a person has at least one weight-related health condition and for those who have a body mass index (BMI) near the top of the obese range.

A person will be able to take the drug for a maximum of two years only when it has been prescribed by a specialist. Several famous personalities, including Twitter CEO Elon Musk, claim to have used it. Musk made the revelations in a Twitter post.

He was responding to a question by a Twitter user, who asked him about the secrets behind his good looks and fit body. Musk said fasting and Wegovy were his secrets.

Semaglutide is also found in the diabetes medicine Ozempic, and a report in Variety claimed that several film personalities have been using Ozempic to lose weight.

According to NBC News, the drug became so popular in the US that several pharmacies reported a shortage last year. It costs around $1,300 a month in the US.

It is not some magic pill and has side effects such as nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, and diarrhoea. The lost weight could also come back once people stop taking the drug. According to a report in the BBC, people gained back around two-thirds of their lost weight within two years of stopping it.

Modern diets are based on high-carb foods, which are highly addictive and contribute to several metabolic health issues. Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and Alzheimer's disease are on the rise.

The Health Survey for England (HSE) conducted in 2019 revealed that over a quarter of adults in England are obese and around a third are overweight. Obesity cost the UK an estimated £6 billion in 2014-15 and is projected to rise to £9.7 billion by 2050.

Obesity impacts about 14.4 million kids and adolescents in the United States. The situation is so severe that the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) has recommended the use of drugs for weight loss. Some of the widely available drugs are orlistat, Novo Nordisk's semaglutide and metformin, which are all recommended to be used in addition to exercise and a nutritional diet.

Several studies in the past have shown that obesity increases the risk of developing 13 different types of cancer. After smoking, being overweight is the second-highest preventable cause of cancer in the UK.

A recent study by scientists in the UK found that lifelong excess weight nearly doubles a woman's risk of developing womb cancer. The study, which has been published in the journal BMC Medicine, was conducted by researchers at the University of Bristol.