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Weight loss drugs and obesity

What does the British Nutrition Foundation say about weight loss drugs like Semaglutide?

2nd May 2024


Weight loss injections like semaglutide (sold as Ozempic or Wegovy) or liraglutide (sold as Saxenda) are increasingly of interest and regularly hit the headlines. But what are they, how do they work and will they solve the obesity crisis?


Semaglutide and other similar drugs are known scientifically as ‘GLP-1 receptor agonists’. They work by mimicking the actions of a hormone called GLP-1 (Glucagon-like peptide-1). GLP-1 is released after eating, makes you feel fuller and helps to control blood sugar. So, this class of drugs can be used to treat type 2 diabetes and help with weight loss. They are usually given by a regular injection.


Studies have shown that drugs like semaglutide are effective at helping people lose weight, controlling type 2 diabetes and improving quality of life. There are clinical guidelines in the UK on how doctors should prescribe them. They are prescribed to people who are classified as living with obesity and have health problems due to their weight. They should not be used without a prescription.


The British Nutrition Foundation, along with British Dietetic Association, has put out a statement on these weight loss drugs. We support their use as long as they are prescribed safely, in line with national clinical guidelines. When taking these drugs, it’s important that patients also get support from qualified health professionals to have a healthier diet and lifestyle in the longer term. When people stop taking drugs like Semaglutide, their appetite will come back and blood sugar control will return to normal and so it is important to eat a balanced, calorie-controlled diet to avoid regaining weight.


For people living with obesity, these drugs can be a valuable option for treatment. But we also need to tackle the causes of obesity and to make it easier for people to have better diets and healthier lives.