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Researchers have found that medications containing the ingredient trizepatide, such as Mounjaro and Zepbound, can help people lose weight and reduce their waist circumference, regardless of how long they have had weight issues. Studies presented at the European Congress on Obesity suggest that people should remain on these medications long-term for effective weight management, as going off the drugs may result in weight gain. The U.S. FDA has approved these medications for weight management in adults with obesity or related conditions. Data from the SURMOUNT phase 3 trials comparing tirzepatide medications to placebos showed significant weight loss results.

Participants in the studies were grouped based on the length of time they had been dealing with weight issues or obesity. The percentage of change in body weight and waist circumference was evaluated as participants reached weight loss targets ranging from 5% to 25% of total body weight. Results showed that tirzepatide consistently reduced body weight and waist circumference in people with obesity, regardless of how long they had been dealing with the condition. The study found that those taking tirzepatide lost between 13% and 23% of their body weight, depending on factors such as the presence of type 2 diabetes and the duration of weight issues.

Dr. Mir Ali, a bariatric surgeon, noted that the results of the study were not surprising as medications like tirzepatide are designed to work with hormones to aid weight loss. However, he emphasized that patients must remain on the medication long-term for it to be effective. When patients stop taking the medication, weight gain may occur unless they have made lifestyle changes while on the drug. Additionally, tirzepatide may not be covered by insurance and can have mild side effects such as nausea, vomiting, and constipation.

Dr. Holly Lofton, the director of NYU Langone Health’s medical weight management program, also shared her thoughts on the study. She stated that the findings demonstrate significant weight loss regardless of the duration of obesity, suggesting that it is never too late to treat individuals with obesity. However, she emphasized the importance of individualized treatment plans based on clinical judgment. The study was funded by Eli Lilly and Company, the manufacturers of Mounjaro and Zepbound, leading to some concerns about potential biases. However, Lofton believes that the outcomes can be trusted given the stringent review processes.

In a separate study in 2023, researchers found that people who were switched to a placebo after 36 weeks of tirzepatide medication gained back 14% of their weight, while those who remained on the drug lost an additional 5% of body weight. This highlights the importance of long-term use of tirzepatide for sustained weight loss. While acknowledging the possible biases in studies funded by manufacturers, the researchers involved in the study believe that the results can be trusted due to the rigorous review processes conducted by medical peers and regulatory bodies. Overall, the findings suggest that tirzepatide medications can be an effective weight management option for individuals with obesity or related conditions, especially when used in conjunction with lifestyle changes.

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