A compound which mimics a naturally occurring hormone that regulates appetite may help obese people lose weight, according to a study.
The compound, semaglutide, has a chemical structure very similar to the hormone glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), which regulates both insulin secretion and appetite.
“This randomised study of weight loss induced with semaglutide in people with obesity but without diabetes has shown the highest weight reductions yet seen for any pharmaceutical intervention,” said Patrick M O’Neil from the Medical University of South Carolina in the US.
The study, presented at Endocrine Society’s annual meeting in Chicago, included 957 participants, 35 per cent of whom were male.
All participants had a body mass index (BMI) of at least 30, but did not have diabetes.
They were randomly assigned to seven different groups.
Five groups received different doses of semaglutide (between 0.05 milligrammes (mg) and 0.4 mg) via injection once daily.
A sixth group received a placebo, and a seventh group received 3 mg of the diabetes drug liraglutide.
All participants received monthly diet and exercise counseling.
After one year, all participants receiving semaglutide had lost significantly more weight than those receiving placebo.
The higher the dose participants received, the greater their average weight loss, researchers said.
Participants who received 0.05 mg of semaglutide daily lost an average of 6.0 per cent of their body weight.
The 0.1 mg group lost an average of 8.6 per cent, while the 0.3 mg group lost an average of 11.2 per cent.
Those receiving a daily dose of 0.4 mg lost an average of 13.8 per cent, researchers found.
Those receiving liraglutide lost an average of 7.8 per cent of their body weight, while those in the placebo group lost only 2.3 per cent on average, they said.
Sixty five per cent of participants who received 0.4 mg of semaglutide per day lost at least 10 per cent of their body weight, compared with 10 per cent of those in the placebo group and 34 per cent of the liraglutide group.