A class of medicine called GLP-1 agonists is being used to treat obesity, which affects over 42% of adults in the US.
What are GLP-1 Agonists?
GLP-1 agonists are drugs that act on a protein called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). GLP-1 is a hormone that is released in the gut in response to food. It helps to control blood sugar levels by increasing the release of insulin from the pancreas (1). GLP-1 agonists were initially developed as an alternate (non-insulin) treatment for Type 2 diabetes but were quickly found to have additional weight loss and cardiovascular benefits (2).
Examples of GLP-1 Agonists include:
Semaglutide (Wegovy, Ozempic), Liraglutide (Victoza, Saxenda), and Dulaglutide (Trulicity). These medications are usually taken once weekly or once daily by subcutaneous injection (2).
How do GLP-1 Agonists help with weight loss?
GLP-1 Agonists work in conjunction with lifestyle changes to produce weight loss. GLP-1 Agonists slow down stomach emptying and tell the brain there’s food in the stomach faster than usual, reducing appetite and cravings. Essentially, they work to give patients more of the hormone that makes them feel full (3).
Do GLP-1 Agonists really work?
Yes! Clinical trials have shown that GLP-1 Agonists can increase a person’s weight loss by 12.5% when compared to diet and exercise alone (3). And weight loss may be sustained for up to a period of 3 years in the presence of GLP-1 agonist therapy (1).
Who can prescribe GLP-1 Agonist Medications?
We recommend obtaining a GLP-1 agonist prescription from an obesity-certified doctor. With a team of obesity management experts to help you create new, healthy, and sustainable habits, you’ll get better results.
Written by Amanda Herlocker MS, RDN, LDN, Owner of The Queen City Dietitian, LLC and Co-Author of Nutrition Focus at ModernWeigh
1. Garber A, Henry RR RR, Hale P, CT C, Bode B. Liraglutide, a once-daily human glucagon-like peptide 1 analogue, provides sustained improvements in glycaemic control and weight for 2 years as mono-therapy compared with glimepiride in patients with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Obes Metab. 2011;13:348–56.
2. GLP-1 agonists: Diabetes drugs and Weight Loss. NCH Healthcare System. 2023, January 28. https://nchmd.org/health-library/articles/faq-20057955/
3. Katella, Kathy. “Can New Weight-Loss Drugs Really Treat Obesity?” Yale Medicine, Yale Medicine, 10 June 2022, https://www.yalemedicine.org/news/new-medications-treat-obesity-ozempic.
4. Shah, M., & Vella, A. (2014). Effects of GLP-1 on appetite and weight. Reviews in endocrine & metabolic disorders, 15(3), 181–187. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11154-014-9289-5