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    • Injectable diabetes management medication
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    Weight Loss
    1234 · 20 min read

    The Role of Saxenda in Weight Loss and Diabetes

    In the UK, many people are worried about diabetes and being overweight. Diabetes is when your body can't control sugar levels properly, and being overweight means carrying too much body weight. This article will talk about a medicine called Saxenda, which has an active ingredient named liraglutide. We'll explain what Saxenda is, how it can help with diabetes and weight loss, and answer common questions about it. 

    What is diabetes?

    Diabetes is a condition which occurs when the body cannot properly use or store sugar which we get from food. This sugar is called glucose, and it stays in the blood instead of going into the cells where it is needed for energy. This subsequently leads to high blood sugar levels. There are two types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2 (McKechnie, 2023).

    Type 1 diabetes is when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin, a hormone that helps to move glucose from the bloodstream into the cells. People with Type 1 diabetes need to take insulin regularly to keep their blood sugar levels in check.

    Type 2 diabetes is more common than type 1. It happens when the body doesn't produce enough insulin or the body's cells resist the insulin. It can be linked to being overweight, not being active enough, or having a family history of diabetes.

    What is obesity?

    Obesity is a medical condition where someone has accumulated so much body fat that it might have a negative effect on their health. In the UK and many other countries, a person is generally considered obese if they have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or higher. BMI is a simple tool used to estimate body fat based on a person's weight and height (Knott, 2021). Being obese can increase the risk of various health conditions, including:

    • Heart diseases such as heart attacks and strokes

    • Type 2 diabetes

    • Joint problems, especially in the knees and hips

    • Breathing issues such as sleep apnea 

    What are Saxenda injections?

    Saxenda is a medicine used to help adults who are overweight or obese lose weight. It contains the active ingredient liraglutide. Saxenda works by mimicking a hormone in the intestine that tells the brain the stomach is full. This helps people feel less hungry and eat less. According to the official Saxenda website, Saxenda is “used for adults with excess weight (BMI ≥27) who also have weight-related medical problems or obesity (BMI ≥30), and children aged 12-17 years with a body weight above 132 pounds (60 kg) and obesity to help them lose weight and keep the weight off.” 

    It's worth noting that Saxenda is meant to be used alongside a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity. It's not a magic solution on its own but can be a helpful tool for those trying to lose weight.

    What is Liraglutide?

    Liraglutide is the active ingredient in Saxenda and is a type of medicine known as a GLP-1 receptor agonist (Li et al, 2020). This means it works by imitating the action of a hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). This hormone is naturally produced in our intestines and has several functions, including:

    • Regulating blood sugar

    • Decreasing appetite

    Liraglutide, by acting like GLP-1, helps in controlling blood sugar levels and reducing appetite, making it useful for both weight management and treating Type 2 diabetes.

    Is Liraglutide effective at lowering blood glucose levels?

    Yes, liraglutide is effective at lowering blood glucose levels. It is often prescribed to individuals with Type 2 diabetes to help regulate their blood sugar levels. Several studies prove its safety and efficacy as a glucose-lowering agent and a weight-reduction drug in individuals with and without diabetes (Tilinca et al, 2021). After a meal, liraglutide encourages the pancreas to release more insulin, a hormone that helps cells take in sugar from the bloodstream. This action directly reduces the amount of sugar in the blood. 

    Is Liraglutide effective at lowering body weight?

    Yes, liraglutide has been shown to be effective at lowering body weight. In the UK, liraglutide, when marketed under the name Saxenda, is specifically used for weight management in certain adults who are either obese or overweight with at least one weight-related health problem. Liraglutide can help people feel full or satisfied earlier during a meal and can reduce overall hunger. This makes it easier to eat smaller portions and consume fewer calories (Tilinca et al, 2021).

    Can diet and exercise impact how effective liraglutide is?

    Yes, diet and exercise can indeed impact how effective liraglutide is, especially when considering its use for weight management. Liraglutide, when used as a weight loss aid like in Saxenda, is typically prescribed alongside a recommendation for a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity (Garvey et al, 2020). Combining liraglutide with these lifestyle changes has been shown to result in more significant weight loss than diet and exercise alone. 

    For those with Type 2 diabetes, adhering to a balanced diet and engaging in regular exercise can greatly enhance the ability of liraglutide to regulate blood sugar levels. A diet consistent in carbohydrate intake and timing, for instance, can make blood sugar levels more predictable and easier to manage.

    Does liraglutide cause a risk of hypoglycemia and/or weight gain?

    Hypoglycemia, commonly referred to in the UK as a "hypo", is a condition where the level of sugar (glucose) in the blood drops too low. It's especially relevant to people with diabetes who take insulin or certain other diabetes medications. The risk of hypoglycemia is low when liraglutide is used alone, the risk is increased when it is combined with other antidiabetic medications (Jackson et al, 2010). 

    Liraglutide is more often associated with weight loss rather than weight gain. This is due to its effects on reducing appetite and making you feel full more quickly. It’s important to note that everyone’s experience with liraglutide medications such as Saxenda, so whilst some people may experience weight gain, the majority will experience loss. 

    Does Liraglutide have a greater impact on women than on men?

    Liraglutide's efficacy and safety have been assessed in various clinical trials that include both men and women. While the overall effects of liraglutide—like its ability to lower blood glucose levels or aid in weight loss—are generally consistent between the genders, there can be some differences in how individuals respond, and this can sometimes be influenced by gender. A 2019 study suggested that liraglutide can have a greater impact on women than men (Mirabelli et al, 2019), however, other studies have suggested that the medication does not differ between genders. 

    It is worth noting that gender-based factors can change the perceived results of the medication. Women's hormonal fluctuations during menstrual cycles, pregnancy, or menopause can influence glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity, which might affect how any diabetes medication, including liraglutide, works. You should not use Saxenda if you are pregnant, or if you become pregnant. 

    Does liraglutide improve β-cell function and why is this important?

    β-cells are located in the pancreas and are responsible for producing and releasing insulin, a hormone that helps regulate blood glucose levels. In people with Type 2 diabetes, the function of these cells can be impaired, leading to inadequate insulin production or release. Liraglutide encourages β-cells to release insulin, but only when blood glucose levels are elevated. Preserving and enhancing β-cell function can lead to more stable blood glucose levels. Stable blood glucose reduces the risk of complications associated with diabetes, such as nerve damage, kidney issues, and cardiovascular diseases (Wajcberg & Amarah, 2010).

    Does liraglutide (generic Saxenda) work?

    Liraglutide, marketed under the brand name Saxenda for weight management, has been shown in clinical trials to be effective for weight loss when combined with a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity. Liraglutide, as Saxenda, does work for many people in assisting with weight loss, but individual results can vary. Several studies suggest that Saxenda is effective at suppressing appetite (Silva-Nunes et al, 2022) and thus aiding weight loss in obese people (Hasanzad et al, 2020). 

    What risks could liraglutide cause?

    Liraglutide, like any medication, can have side effects and potential risks. While many people tolerate it well, some might experience adverse reactions. Here are the most common side effects of liraglutide (Seo, 2021):

    • Nausea

    • Vomiting

    • Diarrhoea

    • Constipation

    • Loss of appetite

    • Skin reactions around the injection site

    • Increased heart rate

    There are also a number of more uncommon, serious side effects that you need to keep an eye out for. Let your doctor know if you are experiencing:

    • Pancreatitis

    • Gallbladder issues

    • Kidney problems

    • Increased heart rate

    Liraglutide can also interact with other medications you may be taking, possibly altering their effects. It's essential to discuss all other medications you're taking with your healthcare professional.

    Is Saxenda available at UK Meds?

    Yes, Saxenda is available to purchase online from UK Meds. Before you complete your purchase you will need to complete our free online consultation that determines whether or not the medication you are trying to buy is right for you. 

    Are alternative diabetes treatments available at UK Meds?

    There are a wide variety of different diabetes treatments that are available to purchase online from UK Meds, including: 

    Are alternative weight loss treatments available at UK Meds?

    Yes, there are a number of alternative weight loss treatments that are available to purchase online from UK Meds. Our range of weight loss treatments include:

    Sources

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    Blog author

    Scott Weaver

    Scott is an experienced and professional content writer who works exclusively for UK Meds.

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