News Desk |
A drug designed to suppress your appetite appears to make a difference, most notably in people with prediabetes or type II diabetes. However, it may not be the easy fix that people who are overweight or obese are hoping for.
Lorcaserin, known by its brand name Belviq and manufactured by Arena Pharmaceuticals, demonstrated in a study involving 12,000 participants from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston that it reduced blood glucose levels and overall risk of kidney complications related to diabetes in patients struggling with their weight.
A key aspect of the three-year study, however, is the addition of lifestyle improvements around nutrition and exercise.
Lorcaserin works as a “selective serotonin 2C receptor agonist” that suppresses appetite and reduces overall physical hunger pangs, according to the research first published in The Lancet.
During the study, patients were divided into three groups (prediabetes, diabetes, and non-diabetic), and saw an average weight loss of 5 to 7 pounds over the course of the first year on the drug. However, those with prediabetes and type II diabetes saw other benefits.
“Lorcaserin reduced the risk of diabetes by 19 percent in patients with prediabetes,” explains the study. The results also showed that lorcaserin significantly reduced the incidence of high blood glucose levels in people with established type II diabetes by 21 percent.
Lorcaserin was first approved for use in some types of obese and overweight people in 2012. It was more widely approved in 2016 along with its extended release version. It is not approved for use in most European countries.
“It works,” Marcey Robinson, MS, and co-founder of Achieve Health & Performance, told Healthline. “But if you just take the pill without making other lifestyle changes, it probably won’t help you lose any weight at all.”
Robinson works regularly with people who are struggling to lose weight. Many of them have type II diabetes. Drugs like Belviq are one of the many tools she might offer someone to help them reach their goals.
“It’s great because it is a weight-loss drug approved for long-term use,” said Robinson, “but most insurance companies will only cover it if the patient is enrolled in a weight-loss program that helps them focus on improving their overall lifestyle habits,” Robinson emphasizes that this drug is not going to be effective if it’s used without other changes around nutrition and exercise.