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First medical guideline recommends new prescription medications for weight loss, ranks the most effective drugs

Bethesda, MD (October 20, 2022) — Diet and exercise fail for most adults who try to lose weight in the long-term. Today the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) released new evidence-based guidelines strongly recommending that these patients with obesity use recently approved medications paired with lifestyle changes.

The following medications, paired with healthy eating and regular physical activity, are first-line medical options and result in moderate weight loss as noted as a percentage of body weight (reported as the difference compared to percent weight loss observed in the placebo group).

  1. Semaglutide (Wegovy®), weight loss percentage: 10.8%
  2. Phentermine-topiramate ER (Qsymia®), weight loss percentage: 8.5%
  3. Liraglutide (Saxenda®), weight loss percentage: 4.8%
  4. Naltrexone-Bupropion ER (Contrave®), weight loss percentage: 3.0%

“These medications treat a biological disease, not a lifestyle problem. Obesity is a disease that often does not respond to lifestyle interventions alone in the long-term,” says author Eduardo Grunvald, MD, University of California San Diego. “Using medications as an option to assist with weight loss can improve weight-related complications like joint pain, diabetes, fatty liver and hypertension.”

The prevalence of obesity in the United States has increased dramatically from 30.5% to 41.9% over the last twenty years.

“There have been changes in obesity treatment in recent years. This guideline is the first since diabetes drugs were approved for obesity treatment and provides clear information for doctors and their adult patients who struggle to lose weight or keep it off with lifestyle changes alone,” says Perica Davitkov.

Read the AGA Clinical Guidelines on Pharmacological Interventions for Adults with Obesity for the complete recommendations

About obesity

Obesity is a medical condition in which too much body fat negatively impacts your health. It is healthy to have some body fat. In fact, a healthy level of body fat is needed to survive. But too much fat can be harmful to your body. Obesity is most often measured by body mass index (BMI), a calculation of body weight compared with height. BMI isn’t the only way to measure healthy weight. Learn more in the AGA GI Patient Center.


Obesity Guideline

Spotlight (one-page infographic)

Clinical Decision Support Tool

Obesity Patient Resource Center

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Media contact: Courtney Reed, [email protected], 301-272-0025

About the AGA Institute

The American Gastroenterological Association is the trusted voice of the GI community. Founded in 1897, the AGA has grown to more than 16,000 members from around the globe who are involved in all aspects of the science, practice and advancement of gastroenterology. The AGA Institute administers the practice, research and educational programs of the organization.

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About Gastroenterology

Gastroenterology is the most prominent journal in the field of gastrointestinal disease. As the official journal of the AGA Institute, Gastroenterology delivers up-to-date and authoritative coverage of both basic and clinical gastroenterology. Regular features include articles by leading authorities and reports on the latest treatments for diseases. Original research is organized by clinical and basic-translational content, as well as by alimentary tract, liver, pancreas, and biliary content. 

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