When people think of losing weight, they often imagine dieting and doing the best exercises for weight loss. Whether burning calories through exercise, being careful with your eating habits or practicing other healthy habits, such as getting better sleep, losing weight is often seen to be based in lifestyle solutions rather than medical ones.
However, there are medical practices designed to help you lose weight, and a new "gamechanger" treatment is on the horizon. A study from University College London (opens in new tab) tested a drug designed to hijack the body's own appetite regulatory system in the brain, leading to reduced hunger. Over the course of the trial, the average participant (the study recruited almost 2,000 people) lost 15.3kg, or nearly three stone.
Professor Batterham of UCL said: "The findings of this study represent a major breakthrough for improving the health of people with obesity. Three quarters (75%) of people who received semaglutide 2.4mg lost more than 10% of their body weight and more than one-third lost more than 20%.
"No other drug has come close to producing this level of weight loss -- this really is a gamechanger. For the first time, people can achieve through drugs what was only possible through weight-loss surgery."
Weight loss: Are treatments really as good as lifestyle changes?
There's no denying the immediate effectiveness of the drug tested in the study above. For those people who have an unhealthy relationship with food, a drug to limit and regulate your intake sounds very effective. However, the big question is "what happens when the treatment stops?"
It's quite similar to extreme weight loss diets, which are often used as a temporary "quick fix", which can lead to a cycle of unhealthy binging and purging. Research from the University of California (opens in new tab) has found around two-thirds of dieters put more weight back on than they initially lost.
This is where lifestyle changes come in. Developing permanent, sustainable healthy habits, resulting in slower, steady weight loss has been found to be more effective in the long term than quick fixes. Using supplements like the best protein powder for weight loss, portion control (check our portion size guide for more on this) is an essential skill to learn, as is keeping a food diary, which can double your weight loss progress in just 15 minutes a day.
For many people, it's not just a simple case of eating less and exercising more: complex psychological issues can lead to eating disorders, which require in-depth exploration. Quick fixes aren't enough: they need to learn new skills and coping mechanisms to live healthier, happier lives. Appetite-curbing wonder drugs could work alongside these lifestyle changes, providing a kick-start the individual could need to make those changes for themselves.
Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and is currently Fitness and Wellbeing Editor at TechRadar, covering all things exercise and nutrition on Fit&Well's tech-focused sister site. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
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