If you are severely overweight, you can have access to doctor-prescribed medication to support your weight loss. Treatment with so-called 'obesity medicine' is a developing field that offers new modern possibilities that we did not know about just a few years ago. But what is medical weight loss? What is the effect? And is it sustainable?
Embla is a Danish medical clinic specialising in medical weight loss combined with health coaching. Find out whether a program is for you, and find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about obesity medicine here.
How do you lose weight with medication? During medical weight loss, you get the help of medication to lose weight. Most often, the weight loss medication comes in the form of a pen and must be injected into the skin in precisely the same way as you know it from diabetic patients. The needle in the pen is so thin that most people cannot feel the injection. The medication must be injected once a day or weekly, depending on which type has been prescribed for you. There are also diet pills, but the most used and most effective is to get your daily or weekly dose via injections.
How do obesity medications work?
The medication used today against obesity mimics the body's appetite-regulating hormones: It reduces the feeling of hunger and increases your sense of fullness when you eat, as long as you are on treatment.
Studies have shown that the combination of obesity medication and exercise is twice as effective as medication or exercise alone. Weight loss with the help of medication is only sustainable if it is combined with a lifestyle change. This is why our medical weight loss program at Embla combines coaching and advice on diet, exercise, sleep and other important lifestyle factors. That way, you are best prepared for a lifestyle change.
Clinical data collected for over ten years
Semaglutide is the active ingredient in the next generation of weight loss medication called Wegovy®, as well as in the diabetes medication, Ozempic, both of which are approved by the FDA in the USA and approved by the EMA (European Medicines Agency) in the EU and by the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) in the UK. Another active ingredient used for weight loss is Liraglutide. It is used, among other things, in medicines such as Saxenda® or Victoza®.
New and more potent obesity medication is on the way
The next generation of weight-loss drugs includes, for example, the drug Tirzepatid, which in studies has resulted in weight loss of up to 16-22.5% of the subjects' body weight over 74 weeks. Also, Semaglutide has proved effective, with a 15%-18% weight loss in subjects using it for 60 weeks.
Over the next few years, we expect several new products to come on the market that will give even better results. It may also be possible to get obesity medications such as tablets and other medication that only needs to be taken once a week instead of daily.
There are several different types of weight loss medication, but you may have heard of the drug Wegovy® from Novo Nordisk, which has been covered quite a bit in the media. Wegovy® is now for sale in Denmark and is expected to be available in the UK later this year.
Medical weight loss at Embla
What results do we see at Embla with medical treatment of obesity?
At Embla, we see a weight loss of around 15% in our members during the first six months of our weight loss program - and 15-20 % after a year. In addition to medication, they have access to our digital universe with unlimited coaching, a learning platform, recipes and an online community.
When you are being treated for severe overweight or obesity, you can gain many health benefits even with a 10% weight loss. It has a positive impact on, e.g. cholesterol levels, the risk of type 2 diabetes is lowered, and you have more energy. Still, for some, losing 10-15-20% of their body weight will be on the lower end of their goal.
At Embla, we continuously quality control our medical weight loss course, ensuring that the program we offer our members has the desired effect. In the coming time, we will initiate further quality studies to assess the dynamics between medication, digital aids and coaching.
Most importantly, our studies must also clarify whether the results we see in our members are sustainable. At Embla, our mission is to be the ultimate weight loss journey for our members. The end goal is sustainable and lasting weight loss.
An alternative to bariatric surgery
It is always 100 per cent your decision how you would like to lose weight. At Embla, we have helped several members lose enough weight to become candidates for bariatric surgery. You must lose 8% of your body weight no later than three weeks before the operation to receive surgical treatment for severe obesity.
For some, bariatric surgery is the right choice, while others choose to lose weight solely through medical weight loss. Good, long-term reports comparing the results of bariatric surgery and medical weight loss are still lacking. In all cases, a lifestyle change should follow the weight loss for it to be sustainable.
Bariatric surgery is often divided into two categories: (1) Gastric sleeve: An operation that makes the stomach smaller. Or (2) Gastric bypass: An intervention that makes the stomach smaller and simultaneously limits the absorption of food in the intestine. Some procedures are available on the NHS or through private services. More information on Bariatric Surgery can be found at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/weight-loss-surgery/