Study: Semaglutide Reduces Excess Body Fat in People With Obesity

March 26, 2021
Jill Murphy, Associate Editor

The STEP1 study included 1961 adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 27 or higher with at least 1 weight-related health condition, or a BMI of 30 or higher, without diabetes.

A new study has found that in adults with obesity or overweight, weekly treatment with the glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP1) receptor agonist semaglutide leads to reduced excess body fat and increased lean body mass, according to results presented at the ENDO2021 annual meeting.

“Our findings suggest that semaglutide, through body weight loss and improvement of body composition, has the potential to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke in people with overweight or obesity,” said lead researcher John Wilding, DM, FRCP, of the University of Liverpool, in a press release.

The STEP1 study included 1961 adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 27 or higher with at least 1 weight-related health condition, or a BMI of 30 or higher, without diabetes. Further, a person is classified as overweight if their BMI is 25 to 29.9, and the range for obesity is a BMI of 30 or more, according to the study authors.

The participants were randomly assigned to inject themselves once weekly for 68 weeks with either 2.4 milligrams of semaglutide or a placebo. Semaglutide, a synthetic version of the naturally occurring hormone GLP1, acts on appetite centers in the brain and in the gut to produce feelings of fullness.

A part of the study included researchers using dual-energy absorptiometry—a technique that is widely used clinically to assess body composition—to monitor the effects of therapy on total body fat and fat around the stomach area in 140 of the participants, according to the study authors.

The team found treatment with semaglutide improved body composition by reducing excess body fat, including abdominal fat, and increasing the proportion of lean body mass, or the amount of weight someone carries that is not body fat. The more body weight a participant lost, the greater the improvement in body composition.

The rest of the findings showed that patients who injected semaglutide lost close to 15% of their body weight, on average, compared with 2.4% among patients receiving the placebo. More than one-third of participants receiving semaglutide lost more than 20% of their weight, and many patients experienced improvements in risk factors for heart disease, blood sugar levels, and quality of life, according to the study authors.

REFERENCE

Semaglutide reduces excess body fat in people with obesity. Endocrine Society. Published March 20, 2021. Accessed March 24, 2021. https://www.endocrine.org/news-and-advocacy/news-room/featured-science-from-endo-2021/semaglutide-reduces-excess-body-fat-in-people-with-obesity#:~:text=March%2020%2C%202021-,In%20adults%20with%20obesity%20or%20overweight%2C%20weekly%20treatment%20with%20the,the%20Endocrine%20Society's%20annual%20meeting.