New therapy for obesity is on the way

It is a drug that has already been used successfully against diabetes, but at higher dosages it has also been very effective against obesity and is already in use in the United States for weight management. “This drug is now awaiting approval by the EMA, the European agency that regulates drugs, between the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022”, reports Olga Disoteo, Diabetologist at the Niguarda Hospital of Milan and head of the commission Diabetes of the Association of Endocrinologists Doctors (AME), on the occasion of the National Congress of the Association in Trieste. It therefore becomes even clearer that obesity, like diabetes, must be considered and treated as a real pathology.

“It is a chronic relapsing disease – explains Disoteo – there are every reason to consider it as such, since scientific evidence shows that appetite, satiety and up to 70% of one’s weight are genetically determined”, he adds. Hence the need to develop new and more effective treatments.

“The new therapies for obesity – explains Marco Chianelli, medical director at the Regina Apostolorum Hospital in Albano (Rome), coordinator of the Obesity and Metabolism Commission of the AME – are based on compounds similar to hormones naturally present in our body, called glucagon like peptide 1 (GLP1). These drugs not only regulate the metabolism but intervene on the main causes of obesity: they reduce the urge towards food and increase the sense of satiety, resulting in a reduction in caloric intake “.

The drug authorized on the market in the US for the treatment of obesity, promotes an average weight loss of about 15 percent of body weight. The new therapy is indicated for patients 18 years of age and older with BMI greater than or equal to 30 or BMI 27 and older with at least one associated comorbidity / complication. But be careful to distinguish between using the drug for diabetes and obesity.

“The action of GLP-1RA on body weight – specifies Disoteo – is dose dependent, so much so that there are specific studies in obesity without diabetes”. Furthermore, AME makes a further clarification: the arrival of new, more effective drugs must not, however, be the pretext for paying little attention to lifestyles. “A lifestyle change is essential, as is done with people suffering from other chronic diseases,” says Disoteo. The latter is a good rule, which with the pandemic has taken a back seat. There is scientific evidence that, since the Covid emergency broke out, the incidence of obesity has grown.

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