What We Know About Eli Lilly's Weight-Loss Experiment

  • In clinical studies, participants who used an experimental weight loss medicine dropped nearly 20% of their body weight.
  • The FDA has not yet given its approval to the medicine.
  • Experts think the discoveries are intriguing, but they are unlikely to be a panacea for obesity.

According to Eli Lilly, participants in a clinical trial who were given the maximum dose of a new hunger suppressor dropped more than 50 pounds on average.

While the medicine tirzepatide has made headlines, it is crucial to remember that it is still experimental and has not been approved or authorised by the FDA. Furthermore, the preliminary data was made public by drugmaker Eli Lilly but has yet to be published in a peer-reviewed medical publication.

Although it is still early, several medical experts believe that novel treatments for obesity are required.

In a statement, study investigator Louis J. Aronne, MD, of Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City, said, "Obesity is a chronic disease that often does not receive the same standard of care as other conditions, despite its impact on physical, psychological, and metabolic health, which can include increased risk of hypertension, heart disease, cancer, and decreased survival."

What the research discovered

The SURMOUNT-1 research trial, which lasted 72 weeks, found that persons who took 15 mg of tirzepatide, a once-weekly injectable medicine, dropped 22.5 percent of their body weight, or 52 pounds on average.

The trial was a double-blind, placebo-controlled study with 2,539 participants, according to Eli Lilly. The researchers tested tirzepatide's efficacy and safety in different doses against a placebo.

GLP-1Trusted Source and GIP are two hormones that our systems naturally release after a meal to make us feel full.

Trial participants, who weighed an average of 230 pounds at the start of the study, self-injected tirzepatide at various doses or a placebo once a week.

Obesity and at least one comorbidity, such as high blood pressure, obstructive sleep apnea, or cardiovascular disease, were present in the study participants. There was no one with type 2 diabetes.

During the 72-week research, all subjects followed a low-calorie diet and increased physical exercise.

According to the findings, the highest dose was the most beneficial, resulting in an average weight loss of more than 50 pounds, or over 23% weight loss.

Participants who received the placebo, on the other hand, only lost roughly five pounds on average, despite cutting calories and increasing exercise.

Nausea, constipation, and diarrhoea were among the most commonly reported side effects. They were mild to severe in intensity and usually happened when the dose was raised.

Dr. W. Scott Butsch, MD, Director of Obesity Medicine in Cleveland Clinic's Bariatric and Metabolic Institute, remarked, "The Tirzepatide data looks outstanding and reveals a new class of extremely successful drugs to treat obesity."

Butsch went on to say that it's the first medicine to cause a 20% weight loss on average.

He added, "Which is twice as much as the current obesity drugs outside this class."

"Having a highly effective medical treatment is a critical step in treating obesity and assisting our patients who frequently believe that if a lifestyle modification fails, bariatric surgery is the only alternative," Butsch continued.

Obesity is a long-term illness.

While the first findings of this medicine have made headlines, Jeffrey G. Dyo, MD, Internal Medicine at UCI Health in Irvine, California, believes it will be a difficult option for people who want to lose weight permanently.

According to Dyo, those who use tirzepatide may need to keep taking it in order to sustain their weight loss.

"Obesity is regarded as a chronic medical condition that might last for months or years," he explained.

He did note out, however, that research using similar weight-loss drugs suggest that stopping treatment could result in regaining the weight lost.

"In tirzepatide, the length of therapy indefinitely or long term has not been specifically explored yet," he stated.

Dyo believes that some people may be able to maintain their weight loss once they've reached their target.

Weight loss isn't always sustainable.

Diets, according to Shailendra Patel, MD, PhD, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, often result in short-term weight loss since they are incredibly difficult to stay with for an infinite period of time.

"All of these diets fail because humans cannot keep to any of these diet plans indefinitely," he explained.

Obesity has several causes, which makes it tough to lose weight. In addition to a lack of healthy eating options, certain hormones or health issues might cause weight gain. According to studies, the human body typically reverts to a "set point" for weight, making it incredibly difficult to reduce weight even with diet and exercise. People who are obese have a good diet and an active lifestyle, just as people who are moderately overweight have a bad diet and a sedentary lifestyle.

Because of the intricacy of obesity, Patel believes that depending on a single remedy, such as a diet or a medicine, is unlikely to work in the long run.

"We've got yet another weight-loss medicine to help patients," Patel added. "However, just like crash diets, you can observe weight loss on their own - but you won't be successful."

If persons with obesity want to lose weight, he noted, they may need various approaches, including medical interventions.

Even bariatric surgery, which includes surgically decreasing or bypassing the stomach, needs patients to adjust their long-term diet and exercise habits for the best benefits, according to Patel.

In conclusion

According to recent clinical study findings, the once-weekly injectable medication tirzepatide may aid in weight loss.

The FDA has yet to approve it, and the results have yet to be published in a peer-reviewed publication.

Obesity is a chronic problem with underlying biological processes, according to experts, and it's probable that patients will need to take the treatment for a long time to lose weight. They also claim that successful, long-term weight loss can entail both medicines and lifestyle changes, regardless of the approach utilised.

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