Tirzepatide: Second “weight loss injection” works successfully against obesity

The Wegovy weight loss syringe contains the active ingredient semaglutide.  This is injected under the skin once a week, on the stomach, arm or thigh.

Second “weight loss injection” in development: The diabetes drug with the active ingredient tirzepatide delivers promising results. (Source: Diy13 / Getty Images)

The diabetes drug Ozempic works successfully against obesity. In a current study, a second active ingredient shows success against obesity : tirzepatide.

In Germany , around two thirds of men and half of women are overweight, and almost a quarter are obese, i.e. very overweight. This has various consequences for health . Being overweight increases the risk of high blood pressure, chronic inflammation and metabolic disorders.

However , only a few people who are very overweight manage to lose weight permanently through diet and exercise alone. Therefore, active ingredients that help you lose weight are very popular. Semaglutide is the most effective anti-obesity drug approved to date. In Germany it is available in the form of the diabetes medication Ozempic (Wegovy). You can find out more about the Wegovy weight loss syringe here .

Now a second active ingredient is showing success against obesity, as shown by a current study published in the journal “Nature Medicine”. This was also originally developed to treat type 2 diabetes.

What is tirzepatide?

Tirzepatide is a so-called analogue of the body’s own intestinal hormone GIP (glucose-dependent insulinotropic peptide). That means it mimics the effects of GIP and even those of another gut hormone in the body, glucagon-like peptide-1, or GLP-1 for short. It does this by occupying the binding sites for these hormones (GIP and GLP-1 receptors). In this way, tirzepatide can lower blood sugar levels and influence satiety, energy intake and metabolic function.

Tirzepatide is approved as an injection for type 2 diabetes in many regions, such as the United States , the European Union and Japan. In addition, in an initial clinical study by the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, around two thirds of the test subjects were able to reduce their body weight by almost 21 percent with the help of the drug. And the risk factors for cardiovascular diseases also decreased. Approval of tirzepatide for obesity therapy is already in progress.

New study combines tirzepatide with lifestyle changes

For their current study, researchers from the USA and Brazil , in collaboration with the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, on the advice of a panel of experts, examined how the active ingredient tirzepatide affects severely overweight people who had previously drastically changed their lifestyle. The experts’ hope: The combination of a healthier lifestyle and tirzepatide should:

  • bring about additional weight loss
  • enable better self-control
  • prevent later weight gain (yo-yo effect).

For the study, they therefore selected 806 severely overweight test subjects who had a body mass index (BMI) of over 30 and who also suffered from a complication caused by being overweight, but not from diabetes. For the initial change in lifestyle, the people initially took part in a diet including counseling for twelve weeks. 579 test subjects endured this phase and lost at least five percent of their body weight. These people were then allowed to take part in the second phase of the study.

Tirzepatide causes significant weight loss

Abdominal circumference: The circumference of the waist also decreased in the subjects taking tirzepatide.
Abdominal circumference: The circumference of the waist also decreased in the subjects taking tirzepatide. (Source: CHASENET / BSIP/imago-bilder)

After the introductory phase was completed, the actual testing phase of the active ingredient began. Half of the test subjects received the diabetes medication with tirzepatide (ten to 15 milligrams) once a week for another 72 weeks, while the other half received a placebo.

The result: At the end of the study (around a year and a half), the subjects in the tirzepatide group had lost an average of 18.4 percent of their initial body weight. This corresponds to approximately 15 kilograms. For comparison: the test subjects in the placebo group only lost weight by 2.5 percent over the course of the study.

On average, blood values ​​and blood pressure also improved. The BMI had also decreased by almost eight points and the waist circumference by 14.6 centimeters. You can find out more about BMI and why waist circumference is an important parameter if you are overweight here:

  • Waist circumference is crucial: That’s why belly fat is so dangerous
  • BMI calculator: Is your weight within a healthy range?

Weight loss effect slightly greater than with semaglutide

The study authors summarize that tirzepatide in combination with a healthier lifestyle can even lead to a weight reduction of up to 26.6 percent. This means that the weight loss success with tirzepatide even appears to be higher than that achieved with semaglutide. Studies with semaglutide have shown that an average weight reduction of around 15 percent can be achieved over a treatment period of 1.5 years.

The authors suspect that tirzapatide’s success could be due to the fact that it mimics two intestinal hormones (GLP-1 and GIP). When it comes to side effects, tirzepatide is very similar to semaglutide: it mainly causes problems in the digestive tract, including nausea, diarrhea and constipation. They mainly occur when the dose of the active ingredient is increased and then subside again.


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