Wegovy users keep weight off for nearly four years: Study

May 14, 2024

Newly released clinical trial data on the GLP-1 agonist drug Wegovy found that weight loss was sustained for up to four years after participants started taking the once-weekly injected medication.

The multi-national trial was sponsored by Wegovy manufacturer Novo Nordisk. Data from the some trial was cited by the Food and Drug Administration earlier this year when it approved Wegovy, a form of semaglutide like Ozempic, for reducing the risk of major cardiovascular events.

The trial found that weight loss among the semaglutide group continued to week 68 of use and was sustained by week 208. By this point, those taking Wegovy lost and kept off an average of 10.2 percent of their weight and an average of 3 inches off their waist.

According to the report, “clinically meaningful weight loss” was achieved among all sexes, races, body sizes and participants in different geographic regions.

“The implications of weight loss of this degree in such a diverse population suggests that it may be possible to impact the public health burden of the multiple morbidities associated with obesity,” the report stated.

The researchers found that weight loss was smaller among participants with a body mass index lower than 30 kg/m2. People with BMIs higher than 30 kg/m2 are considered to fall within the obese range.

“Weight loss cannot continue indefinitely. There is a plateau of weight that occurs after weight loss with all treatments for weight management. This plateau has been termed the ‘set point’ or ‘settling point’, a body weight that is in harmony with the genetic and environmental determinants of body weight and adiposity. Perhaps persons with BMI <30 kg/m2 are closer to their settling point and have less weight to lose to reach it,” they posited

As a GLP-1 agonist, Wegovy functions by mimicking the hormone GLP-1 that causes insulin secretion and regulates appetite. Approved uses for GLP-1 agonists so far include treating diabetes, obesity and most recently reducing the risk of major cardiovascular events.

Previous studies have found that ceasing use of GLP-1 agonists results in patients regaining some or all of the weight they’d lost while taking the medication. A study in 2022 found that participants regained about two-thirds of the weight they lost about one year after they ended treatment.

In the clinical data shared this week, researchers acknowledged some limitations including the lack of numbers on racial subgroups that could reveal “potential differential effects.” Body composition data such as fat mass and muscle mass was not accounted for.

They also noted that Asian participants were more likely to have lower BMIs and the study did not include Asian patients who may have benefitted despite having a lower BMI.