What is medical weight loss?

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 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.
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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.
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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.

Weight loss medication

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®.

Liraglutide was approved in Denmark for use in the treatment of obesity
Semaglutide is developed for the first time by Novo Nordisk
Novo Nordisk announces that Semaglutide can be used to treat obesity
4+ million Americans use Liraglutide
Clinical data from millions of patients using Semaglutide or Liraglutide has been collected for over ten years

Medical weight loss is evolving

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.

12 - 15%
Average weight loss with GLP-1a Semaglutide medical treatment for 12 months in combination with regular dietary advice.
16 - 22.5%
Average weight loss with next-generation GLP-1a, i.e. Tirzepatid medical treatment for 12 months in combination with general dietary advice (not yet available in the UK)
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. 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.
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Average weight loss with medical treatment for six months in combination with support and coaching
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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/

We get asked a lot about medical weight loss

Frequently asked questions

What are the typical side effects of obesity medication?
It depends on which medicine you have been prescribed. 20-40% will typically experience side effects, the most frequent of which medication you have been prescribed. You will often only experience side effects for a short period, and Embla's healthcare staff are trained to remedy them, e.g., by adjusting your dose and adapting your diet. Most of our members experience no side effects at all, and you can contact our staff around the clock if you need advice or guidance.
Why should I lose weight?
People with severe obesity have a much greater risk of developing various diseases, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, depression, sleep apnea and certain types of cancer. Obesity significantly burdens the body mechanically: it simply wears the body down. Losing weight reduces the risk of severe diseases and discomfort when you move.

If you are severely overweight, you will have more energy and find it easier to be physically active once you start to lose weight. Knees, hips and joints will hurt less as your weight drops. Movement, such as climbing stairs, will become more manageable, and you will feel less short of breath.
How long do I have to be treated with weight loss medication?
As a starting point, we recommend you commit to a weight loss journey of at least 8-12 months of continuous progress.

Unfortunately, no diet pill cures you permanently when you are being treated for severe obesity. Prescription obesity medication must be considered a helping hand on your journey to healthy weight loss. It is lifestyle changes that, in the long run, will contribute the most to you in maintaining your weight loss. The medication you receive for obesity boosts your weight loss and can support you for several months. At Embla, we focus on coaching and giving our members the mental tools to cope with the challenges of losing weight.

Our members are usually in treatment for approx. 8 - 12 months or until they have achieved the desired BMI. If you have illnesses that inhibit your ability to move, this may impact the course's length.
Do medical weight loss and obesity medications work?
Studies show that weight loss medication is effective if you have a BMI over 30 and want to lose weight. At Embla, we see a weight loss of around 15% in our members during the first six months, and studies of new anti-obesity medicines show weight loss of up to 22.5% over 74 weeks.
How fast do you lose weight with medicine?
After the first 12 weeks of treatment with anti-obesity medication, you must have lost at least 5% of the body weight you had when the course started. At Embla, we see a weight loss of around 15% in our members during the first six months; on average, they lose 1kg per week while we follow them.
What is the benefit of using medical weight loss?
Treatment with anti-obesity medication can be a boost to your weight loss and support for those who find it challenging to start losing weight. One of the advantages is that the obesity medicine makes you feel full while you are in treatment. When you are on the program at Embla, you can lose weight without feeling hungry, which is a motivation for many. At the same time, studies also show that obesity medication in combination with exercise is twice as effective as exercise alone.
Will I gain weight again when I stop taking the medication?
There should always be a lifestyle change when using weight loss medication to eliminate excess weight. That is why at Embla, we always combine medical treatment with coaching and give our members the right tools to stick to their new, healthy lifestyle when they are no longer on medication. We have also created a community where Embla members can find support from each other even after they have completed their course with us.
Which obesity medicine is best?
It is individual which weight loss medication is best for you, and it will always be our doctor's assessment that determines which obesity medication you will be prescribed. Initially, our staff will assess your state of health to determine which medicine to use and the most suitable dose.
What is Wegovy?
Wegovy® is the name of the latest weight loss medicine from Novo Nordisk, which has already been launched and used in the USA. The ingredient is Semaglutide, which is also known from the drug Ozempic®, which is used to treat diabetes. Although not available in the UK yet, when Wegovy® is launched it will be able to be used in connection with the treatment of obesity. The medicine has been approved by NICE (National Institute of Clinical Excellence) and the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency), and when it is finally available here in the UK, it will require a prescription from a doctor.
What is the difference between GLP-1 and Wegovy?
The drug Wegovy is a Glucagon Like Peptide 1 receptor agonist, GLP-1 for short. GLP-1 works by stimulating the release of insulin and inhibiting the release of glucagon. So Wegovy is the name of a drug, and GLP-1 is, in short, the type.

Do you have more questions?

You are welcome to send a message in the chat to ask us anything you are unsure about.
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