Users of Weight Loss Drugs Regain Weight after Stopping Use

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Dec. 14, 2023 -- New drugs being used for weight loss might bring results that are as temporary as they are dramatic, according to a study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Much of the weight that people lose while using these drugs comes back when they stop taking it, the study says. 

The research examined users of weekly injections of tirzepatide, which is the active ingredient in Eli Lilly and Co.’s Zepbound. This drug was approved by the United States last month as a weight loss drug, Science Alert reported.

“Tirzepatide is part of a new class of drugs called GLP-1 receptor agonists that were developed to treat type 2 diabetes,” according to Weill Cornell Medicine. “Besides controlling blood sugar, the drugs also resulted in weight loss, so pharma companies created specific formulations to help patients shed pounds.”

In the research, 670 adults lost 20.9% of their weight after 36 weeks. Half were placed on a placebo after 88 weeks and regained almost half the weight they’d lost, finishing at 9.9% below their starting weight. 

Those who continued taking Zepbound continued losing weight – ending up at 25.3% lower than where they began. 

Participants were mostly women, with an average age of 48. Their average weight at the beginning of the study was 236.6 pounds. All participants were told to eat 500 fewer calories each day than they were using up and to exercise for at least 150 minutes a week.

The results "emphasize the need to continue pharmacotherapy to prevent weight regain and ensure the maintenance of weight reduction,” according to study authors.