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Anti-obesity drugs can effectively help to control weight in bariatric surgery patients, finds study

Anti-obesity medications, including semaglutide, can effectively help patients to manage weight regain after bariatric surgery, a study led by UT Southwestern (UTSW) Medical Centre researchers shows.

The study, published recently in the journal Obesity, examined the health records of 207 persons who had previously undergone bariatric surgery and were later treated for obesity at UTSW's Weight Wellness Programme between 2015 and 2021.

Pointing out that there was very little published data on how to treat post-bariatric surgery weight gain,” Dr Jaime Almandoz, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine in the Division of Endocrinology at UTSW and the senior author of the study said, “Our research found that newer anti-obesity medications are effective for treating weight regain and optimising body weight after bariatric surgery.”

“Our study also found that weight management medication regimens containing semaglutide worked better than those containing liraglutide, even when the dose of semaglutide was lower than what is currently approved to treat obesity,” he added.

Obesity affects more than 40% of individuals in the United States, according to Centres for Disease Control and Prevention data, and many patients choose to have bariatric surgery in their bid to lose weight.

According to the researchers, regaining weight following surgery, on the other hand, is common and can aggravate obesity-related illnesses such as Type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease.

Dr Almandoz's previous research revealed that anti-obesity medications of the glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist class could be more effective than other drugs or even lifestyle changes in treating post-bariatric surgery weight regain.

However, the researchers said that the efficacy of two main drugs, semaglutide and liraglutide, belonging to the GLP-1 class, was not compared to date.

The study found that after using semaglutide and liraglutide for weight management for three months, while the participants in the semaglutide group lost an average of 12.9% of their body weight, those in the liraglutide group had lost an average of 8.8% twelve months later.

It further found that people in the semaglutide group were more than twice as likely to have lost at least 10% of their body weight.

According to the researchers, the results with semaglutide remained unchanged when factoring in age, sex, or the type of bariatric surgery.

Pointing out that the study results support the real-world effectiveness of GLP-1 receptor agonists for treating post-bariatric weight recurrence and suggest that semaglutide is superior to liraglutide,” Dr Almandoz said, “The results could help inform the use of these drugs in optimising body weight after bariatric surgery.

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