Weight Gain If Semaglutide Stopped

This article discusses several conditions like Prader-Willi and pregnancy that can result in increase hunger and then elaborates on genetic tendency towards obesity in an age of abundant ultra-processed high calorie foods. Excerpts:

A famous 1990 study of identical twins born in Sweden showed that pairs who were separated at birth and adopted had weights more similar to each other than to their adoptive families…The ability to sense such fullness — and hunger — varies, the result of genetic differences in brain circuits that control appetite.

The new drugs are the first to manipulate the hormonal regulatory systems governing energy balance. The drugs simulate the action of our native GLP-1 but with longer-lasting effects, amplifying the fullness signal inside the body…At the very least, though, the way the drugs work can teach us that people who are larger did not necessarily choose to be, just as people who are smaller did not — and are not morally superior. This “isn’t a free pass, either to individuals who do have the capacity to choose better, nor does it take the heat off of food industries,” said a University of Sydney nutritional biologist, Stephen Simpson, but it’s “evidence that obesity isn’t a personal lifestyle choice.”

My take: For those who benefit from GLP-1 medications, it is important to recognize that weight gain is likely when the medications are discontinued; this indicates once treatment is started, the goal would be to use indefinitely –until something better comes along.

Related blog posts:

Disclaimer: This blog, gutsandgrowth, assumes no responsibility for any use or operation of any method, product, instruction, concept or idea contained in the material herein or for any injury or damage to persons or property (whether products liability, negligence or otherwise) resulting from such use or operation. These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications (along with potential adverse effects) should be confirmed by prescribing physician.  Because of rapid advances in the medical sciences, the gutsandgrowth blog cautions that independent verification should be made of diagnosis and drug dosages. The reader is solely responsible for the conduct of any suggested test or procedure.  This content is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a condition

POSE 2.0 Procedure for Obesity

Anyone who follows this blog closely knows my inherent attraction for study acronyms; it is too bad I am not a leading researcher because it would be really fun to come up with some hilarious acronyms.

The Primary Obesity Surgery Endoluminal (POSE) Procedure for the treatment of obesity (GL Nava et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2023; 21: 81-89) prospectively enrolled 44 adult patients who underwent “a novel pattern of full-thickness gastric body plications to shorten and narrow the stomach using durable suture anchor pairs.”

Key findings:

  • This procedure used an average of 19 suture anchor pairs, with a mean duration of 37 ± 11 minutes, and was technically successful in all subjects
  • Mean percentage total body weight loss (%TBWL) at 12 months was 15.7% ± 6.8%. >15% TBWL was achieved by 58%
  • Improvements in lipid profile, liver biochemistries, and hepatic steatosis were seen at 6 months
  • Repeat assessment at 24 months (n = 26) showed fully intact plications. No serious adverse events occurred

My take: This study shows that endoscopic therapies for obesity are quite promising. However, endoscopic therapies and bariatric surgery may become 2nd or 3rd line therapies if oral medications are available that can achieve similar success. Though, medications could require indefinite treatment.

Related blog posts:

Semaglutide in Adolescent Obesity

D Weghuber et al NEJM 2022; DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa2208601. Once-Weekly Semaglutide in Adolescents with Obesity

Methods: In this double-blind, parallel-group, randomized, placebo-controlled trial, we enrolled 201 adolescents (12 to <18 years of age) with obesity (a body-mass index [BMI] in the 95th percentile or higher) or with overweight (a BMI in the 85th percentile or higher) and at least one weight-related coexisting condition.  180 (90%) completed treatment. Participants were randomly assigned in a 2:1 ratio to receive once-weekly subcutaneous semaglutide (at a dose of 2.4 mg) or placebo for 68 weeks, plus lifestyle intervention.

Key findings:

  • The mean change in BMI from baseline to week 68 was −16.1% with semaglutide and 0.6% with placebo
  • At week 68, a total of 95 of 131 participants (73%) in the semaglutide group had weight loss of 5% or more, as compared with 11 of 62 participants (18%) in the placebo group
  • Improvement with respect to cardiometabolic risk factors (waist circumference and levels of glycated hemoglobin, lipids [except high-density lipoprotein cholesterol], and alanine aminotransferase) were greater with semaglutide than with placebo
  • “The safety of semaglutide in this adolescent population appeared to be consistent with findings among adults with overweight or obesity… Gastrointestinal disorders (primarily nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea) were the most frequent adverse events with semaglutide (occurring in 62% of participants, as compared with 42% in the placebo group) and were generally mild or moderate in severity and of short duration (median duration, 2 to 3 days for nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea in the semaglutide group)”
  • “Permanent discontinuations because of gastrointestinal disorders were very low. Furthermore, semaglutide did not appear to affect growth or pubertal development during the trial period”

My take: As in adults, treatment with semaglutide results in weight loss.

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AGA Guidelines for Adults with Obesity

AGA released new evidence-based guidelines strongly recommending patients with obesity use recently approved medications paired with lifestyle changes.

The following medications, paired with healthy eating and regular physical activity, are first-line medical options and result in moderate weight loss as noted as a percentage of body weight (reported as the difference compared to percent weight loss observed in the placebo group).

  1. Semaglutide (Wegovy®), weight loss percentage: 10.8%
  2. Phentermine-topiramate ER (Qsymia®), weight loss percentage: 8.5%
  3. Liraglutide (Saxenda®), weight loss percentage: 4.8%
  4. Naltrexone-Bupropion ER (Contrave®), weight loss percentage: 3.0%

Read the AGA Clinical Guidelines on Pharmacological Interventions for Adults with Obesity for the complete recommendations.

Tirzepatide: Promotes Impressive Weight loss

Source Study: AM Jastreboff et al NEJM 2022; DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa2206038. Tirzepatide Once Weekly for the Treatment of Obesity

USA Today (6/6/22): Diabetes drug helps patients lose never-before-seen amounts of weight, study shows

An excerpt:

The drug, called tirzepatide, works on two naturally occurring hormones that help control blood sugar and are involved in sending fullness signals from the gut to the brain...Those taking the highest of three studied doses lost as much as 21% of their body weight – 50-60 pounds in some cases…

Another obesity treatment approved last year called semaglutide, from Novo Nordisk, provides an average of up to about 15% weight loss. Previous generations of diet drugs cut only about 5% of weight and many carried prohibitive side effects…

About 15% of participants who received the active drug dropped out of the 72-week trial, about a third because of gastrointestinal side effects. Twenty-six percent of trial volunteers who received a placebo dropped out.

On May 13, the Food and Drug Administration approved tirzepatide, under the trade name Mounjaro, for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes…The new tirzepatide trial, called SURMOUNT-1, included more than 2,500 volunteers [without diabetes]…Nine out of 10 lost weight, and on the highest dose, 15 mg, they lost an average of 52 pounds each...

It’s too soon to know what price Lilly will set for tirzepatide. Mounjaro, the same drug used to treat diabetes at the same doses, retails for almost $1,000 a month…Semaglutide went on the market last year for weight loss and has been in short supply ever since, Rind said. It costs about $1,600 a month for the 2.4 mg weight loss dose, which is higher than the 1 or 2 mg doses used to treat diabetes. Like other weight loss drugs, semaglutide isn’t covered by many insurance plans. 

My take: This therapy, already approved for Type 2 Diabetes, appears promising for obesity but costly. More time will be needed to understand the safety profile with extended use.

Related blog post: Are We On the Verge of Pharmacologic Management of Obesity (Again)?

Atalaya Hike, Santa Fe, NM

Does Motivational Interviewing Help Long-Term Outcomes for Obesity?

M Michalopoulou et al. Annals Int Med 2022; https://doi.org/10.7326/M21-3128. Effectiveness of Motivational Interviewing in Managing Overweight and Obesity

This review and meta-analysis examined forty-six studies involving 11 077 participants.

Key findings:

  • At 6 months, behavior weight management programs (BWMPs) using motivational interviewing (MI) were more effective than no/minimal intervention (−0.88) but were not statistically significantly more effective than lower-intensity (−0.88 ) or similar-intensity (−1.36 ) BWMPs.
  • “At 1 year, data were too sparse to pool comparisons with no/minimal intervention, but MI did not produce statistically significantly greater weight change compared with lower-intensity”

My take: Several years ago our hospital system strongly encouraged practitioners to learn motivation interviewing techniques. However, based on this review, “there is no evidence that MI increases effectiveness of BWMPs in controlling weight.”

Related blog posts:

Isle of Palms, SC

Timing of Solids and Weight Trajectory

CJ D’Hollander et al. J Pediatr 2022; 240: 102-109. Timing of Introduction to Solid Food, Growth, and Nutrition Risk in Later Childhood

Methods: A longitudinal cohort study was conducted among healthy children 0-10 years of age participating in The Applied Research Group for Kids study between June 2008 and August 2019 in Toronto, Canada.

Key findings:

  • Of 8943 children included, the mean (SD) age of infant cereal introduction was 5.7 (2.1) months
  • Children who were introduced to infant cereal at 4 vs 6 months had 0.17 greater body mass index z score (95% CI 0.06-0.28; P = .002) and greater odds of obesity (OR 1.82; 95% CI 1.18-2.80; P = .006) at 10 years of age. 
  • Earlier cereal introduction was associated with a less-favorable eating behavior score at 18 months to 5 years of age (0.18 units higher; 95% CI 0.07-0.29; P = .001).

Limitation: This study did not randomize children into early vs late cereal introduction; thus, there may be unidentified confounders that contribute to weight gain in children offered cereal at a younger age.

My take: This study indicates that introduction of cereal at 6 months of age, rather than 4 months of age, may be beneficial in limiting excess weight gain.

What’s More Important for Health: Exercise or Weight loss?

GA Gaesser, SS Angadi. iScience 2021; https://doi.org/10.1016/j.isci.2021.102995. Open access: Obesity treatment: Weight loss versus increasing fitness and physical activity for reducing health risks

Key points from this review of more than 200 relevant meta-analyses and individual studies:

  • “A weight-neutral approach to treating obesity-related health conditions may be as, or more, effective than a weight-loss-centered approach, and could avoid pitfalls associated with repeated weight loss failure… Epidemiological studies show that CRF (cardiorespiratory fitness) and PA (physical activity) significantly attenuate, and sometimes eliminate, the increased mortality risk associated with obesity. More importantly, increasing PA or CRF is consistently associated with greater reduction in risk of all-cause and CVD mortality than intentional weight loss.”
  • “The increased prevalence of weight loss attempts in the United States has coincided with the increased prevalence of obesity. Thus, a weight-centric approach to obesity treatment and prevention has been largely ineffective. It is unlikely that continued focus on weight loss as the primary metric for success will reverse the trends in obesity prevalence or result in sustainable weight loss. In fact, chronic weight cycling is the norm for millions of adults and is likely to remain so for as long as weight loss persists as the cornerstone of obesity treatment. Weight cycling is associated with health risks that are very similar to those associated with obesity, including higher all-cause mortality risk, and may contribute to weight gain.”

NY Times (9/29/21): Why Exercise Is More Important Than Weight Loss for a Longer Life “People typically lower their risks of heart disease and premature death far more by gaining fitness than by dropping weight.”

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Figure 2 from article: “Joint associations between cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF), body mass index (BMI), and all-cause (top) and cardiovascular disease (CVD) (bottom) mortality. Hazard ratios reflect the pooled data from the meta-analyses of Barry et al. for all-cause mortality (Barry et al., 2014) and cardiovascular disease mortality (Barry et al., 2018). For all-cause mortality, the meta-analysis included 6 cohorts of men only, 2 cohorts of women only, and 2 cohorts of both men (~80%) and women. For CVD mortality,
the meta-analysis included 8 cohorts of men only and 1 cohort of both men (89%) and women”

Smoking, Alcohol and Obesity Increase Risk of Malignancies + Staff Morale (Humor)

S-M Wang et al. The American Journal of Gastroenterology: September 2021 – Volume 116 – Issue 9 – p 1844-1852. Open Access: Population Attributable Risks of Subtypes of Esophageal and Gastric Cancers in the United States

This study examined population risks for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC), esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC), gastric cardia adenocarcinoma (GCA), and gastric noncardia adenocarcinoma (GNCA).

“We prospectively examined the associations for risk factors and these cancers in 490,605 people in the National Institutes of Health-the American Association of Retired Persons Diet and Health cohort Diet and Health Study cohort from 1995 to 2011.”

Key findings:

My take: Tobacco, Obesity and Alcohol are associated with increased risk for a large proportion of esophageal and gastric cancers in the United States

Related article: VK Rustgi et al. Gastroenterol 2021; 161: 171-184. Open Access: Bariatric Surgery Reduces Cancer Risk in Adults With Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease and Severe Obesity

Key findings:

  • The IPTW (inverse probability of treatment weighting)-adjusted risk of any cancer and obesity-related cancer was reduced by 18% (hazard ratio, 0.82; 95% CI, 0.76–0.89) and 25% (hazard ratio, 0.65; 95% CI, 0.56–0.75), respectively, in patients with versus without bariatric surgery.
  • In cancer-specific models, bariatric surgery was associated with significant risk reductions for colorectal, pancreatic, endometrial, thyroid cancers, hepatocellular carcinoma, and multiple myeloma.

Link: Improving Morale (53 seconds)