Weight Loss Injections

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Weight loss injections can be effective weight loss aids when used alongside a reduced-calorie diet and increased exercise. The injections make you feel fuller and less hungry, helping you to eat fewer calories.


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What causes obesity?

Obesity is caused by a number of different factors, however a high-calorie diet and insufficient exercise are common causes of obesity. It is recommended that the average man should consume 2500 calories per day and the average woman should consume 2000 calories per day to maintain a healthy weight. Some people may need more or fewer calories than this depending upon your age, metabolism and levels of activity. 

People who are obese typically consume more than the recommended daily calorie intake. When you consume excess calories, these can be stored in the body as fat. For this reason, reducing your calorie intake or increasing the number of calories you burn through exercise can help you to lose weight.

Am I overweight?

To find out if you would be classed as obese, overweight or a healthy body weight, you need to calculate your BMI (body mass index). To do this, you will need to know your current weight and height. There are numerous online calculators to help you find out your BMI. A BMI of 18/5-24.9 is considered to be a healthy weight. Anything less than 18.5 is considered to be underweight. An overweight BMI is 25-29.9 and an obese BMI is anything over 30. 

However, it is important to note that BMI does not always give an accurate representation of health and body weight as it does not take into account the percentage of your body weight that is comprised of muscle or other tissues. Therefore, waist circumference is also used to assess your risk of obesity-related health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. You are considered to have a higher risk of developing obesity-related health conditions if your waist is more than 101.6cm (40 inches) for males or 88.9cm (35 inches) for females (these measurements do not apply during pregnancy).

What are the risks of obesity?

Being obese increases your risk of developing medical conditions related to your weight. This includes type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease. These conditions also make you more likely to suffer from a heart attack or stroke. Obesity is considered to have more related health conditions than smoking, drinking or poverty combined. For this reason, it is important to be mindful of your weight and to try to maintain a healthy weight if possible.

Treatment

What are weight loss injections?

Weight loss injections are typically self-administered injections that help you to lose weight. Saxenda (liraglutide) is currently the only weight loss injection licensed for use in the UK. It is used by adults with a BMI of 30 or more, or by adults with a BMI or 27 or more if they have a weight-related medical condition (such as high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes).

How effective are weight loss injections?

Weight loss injections, such as Saxenda, can be highly effective, but it depends upon a number of different factors including genetics and your initial body weight before you started the medication. In a large scale study, 85% of people lost weight on Saxenda, but the amount of weight loss ranged from 5% to over 20% of the individual’s body weight. Weight loss injections are most effective when combined with a healthy diet and exercise regime.

Who can use weight loss injections?

Weight loss injections, such as Saxenda, are typically not recommended for anyone with a BMI less than 30 unless they have a weight-related medical condition, in which case it can be used by adults with a BMI of 27 or more.

How to get the best results from weight loss injections

Almost all weight loss treatments are designed to be used in combination with a healthy diet and exercise. If you do not make these lifestyle changes, the rate of weight loss may be significantly reduced if it occurs at all. You can try to reduce your calorie intake to approximately 1500 calories per day if you’re female or 2000 calories per day if you’re male. Making these dietary changes, alongside introducing 150 minutes of exercise into your week can help to ensure you get the best results from weight loss injections.

Weight loss injections vs tablets

Saxenda is currently the most popular weight loss injection and orlistat (Xenical) is the most popular weight loss tablet available on prescription. Orlistat works by preventing fat digestion, but Saxenda reduces your appetite, to help you eat fewer calories. There are not currently any studies available comparing Orlistat and Saxenda, however a study of Orlistat found patients lost 4.65 kg on average over 24 weeks, whereas a study of Saxenda found an average 7.8 kg weight loss over 56 weeks.

Which weight loss injections are available?

Currently, only Saxenda and Ozempic weight loss injections are available in the UK. However, it is expected that a new weight loss injection called Wegovy will be made available in the UK at some point later in 2022.

Lifestyle changes to help you lose weight

Excess weight is commonly caused by a high-calorie intake and insufficient exercise. Therefore, making adjustments to these areas could help you to lose weight. It is recommended that you get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise such as hiking or cycling or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise such as running, swimming or aerobics. 

It can take a while to build up your fitness levels, but you should aim to work hard enough to raise your heart rate and to break a sweat. Diet can have an even greater effect upon weight loss than exorcist. It is recommended that you should aim to lose approximately 0.5 - 1kg (1 - 2lb) per week. To do this, you should eat 500-600 calories less than you need per day. This is typically 1500 calories for women and 2000 calories for men.

Q&A

Are weight loss injections safe?

Whenever a medication is prescribed, the doctor evaluates the risks versus the benefits of the treatment. The patient information leaflet contains information about who should not use the medication, and who has greater risks when using the medication. In the case of Saxenda, the effects have not been studied in over 75s and children under 12, so it is not recommended for these age groups. 

In addition, there are various other diseases of the kidney, liver, thyroid, pancreas and digestive systems which may increase your risk. For this reason, it is important that you always inform the prescribing doctor of any other health conditions or medications that you are taking. It is also important to read the patient information leaflet before taking any new medication to double check that it is suitable and safe for you to take.

What is the new weight loss injection?

A new weight loss injection called Wegovy, is expected to come to the market in the UK in 2022. It is currently being reviewed by NICE, a regulatory body who guide medical practice in the UK, and it is expected that they will have reached a decision in March 2022.

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