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The fast fix

the fast fix

Are weight loss injections really a miraculous route to reducing body mass, or is this another false promise?


Towards the end of 2022 it was clear something was going on among American celebrities… namely there was becoming less of them!


From reality star Kim Kardashian to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, the sudden weight loss was profound and rather astonishing. What was more surprising however, was how they were rumoured to have ditched the flab: using Ozempic, a brand of semaglutide drug that is more commonly prescribed to adults with type 2 diabetes.


The drug, available under the name Wegovy in the UK, functions by overruling the body’s own appetite-regulating system in the brain, leading to reduced hunger and calorie intake, with experts saying it can achieve what was previously only possible through weight-loss surgery.


Now this miraculous drug – patients inject themselves once a week with pens pre-filled with semaglutide – has been approved for use in the UK as a weight loss therapy on the NHS. The qualifying criteria is currently a BMI of at least 35 and other co-morbidities such as heart disease or diabetes.


In the UK, obesity is a real problem thought to cost the NHS around £6billion each year. So, a drug that can yield such impressive results can be very tempting for those of us who need to lose mass for the sake of our health. Yet is it really the magic bullet it appears to be?


While these jabs can be effective in helping to jumpstart weight loss and improve metabolism, they are not a substitute for a healthy diet and regular exercise. Injections alone will not provide long-term weight loss or improved overall health.


Additionally, these types of drugs may have side effects, and they may not be safe for everyone – gastrointestinal disorders including nausea, diarrhoea, constipation and vomiting were some of the side effects noted during trials.


There is also the fact that the benefits of exercise go beyond just weight loss. Effective exercise helps to burn calories, improve cardiovascular health, build muscle mass, and boost metabolism. Just as importantly, it provides mental health benefits, such as reduced stress and improved mood, and helps prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.


Another factor worth considering is how long patients can stay on a medication that works by suppressing appetite by mimicking the hormone glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), which is released after eating, making people feel full, so they eat less.


The NHS have stated that the treatment will last no longer than two years, meaning that there is a possibility the weight might be put back on as soon the recipient comes off the drug and their appetite returns to normal.


In other words, these ‘game-changing’ drugs can make a significant difference to the life of someone whose weight gain and possible other chronic illnesses have become so unmanageable that healthy eating and exercise are no longer effective solutions alone. Providing the individual is comfortable administering injections to themselves and assuming the side effects aren’t too severe, the treatment could be just what’s needed to get them back on a path of healthier habits.


For the rest of us however, Kim Kardashian included, it’s probably better to stick to the more time-tested routes to a slimmer figure.


So, if you want to get beach-body ready this summer, head to the gym, not your local GP.


Image: shutterstock_1053684761

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