Science and Tech


Semaglutide, gastric bypass delay weight loss plateau, study finds

Those who are dieting generally reach a weight loss plateau after about a year on average, but these interventions may help.
A closeup of a beam scale.
Posted at 4:10 PM, Apr 22, 2024

A new study looks at weight loss plateaus and how weight loss drugs and gastric bypass surgery can impact them.

The study analyzes how those who are dieting generally reach a weight loss plateau after about a year, on average.

It happens when the body starts trying to make up for lost calories.

"It’s almost like your body has this set point where, once we reach that with weight loss, it resists. It's almost like a survival function," said Dr. Frank Chae, a bariatric surgeon and medical director of bariatric surgery at Sky Ridge Medical Center.

The more weight you lose, the stronger your appetite becomes.

The politics behind insurance companies covering weight-loss drugs
Someone's waist is measured during an obesity prevention study

The politics behind insurance companies covering weight-loss drugs

Out-of-pocket costs for some prescription weight-loss drugs can hover around $1,000 per month for some individuals.


But researcher Kevin Hall with the National Institutes of Health published a study Monday that found weight loss drugs can delay the plateau.

"That’s where things like semaglutide injections and gastric bypass can push that patient forward," Dr. Chae said.

The results of Hall‘s study showed that weight loss drugs like Wegovy, Ozempic, and Zepbound added an extra year on average of weight loss before hitting the plateau, as compared to the average of just restricting calories.

Weight loss surgery, like gastric bypass, had the greatest results in helping delay the plateau for participants by adding another year on average on top of that before hitting a plateau.

But semaglutide can be pricey and hard to find given the high demand.

"The medications are a good tool, but it is not a cure. You have to keep injecting this indefinitely, and the drug companies really don't know what the long-term, meaning years later, what the long-term effects are. I know we’re collecting that data right now," Dr. Chae said.

He explained that the findings of this study reinforced what he’s seeing in the clinical world.

Nearly 1 in 3 adults are overweight in the United States, according to 2017–2018 data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

About 9.2% of adults have severe obesity.

"Obesity is a disease, this is not a lifestyle or willpower issue," Dr. Chae said.

"It is a disease process that needs to be treated, and not just about where’s your discipline or eating less, it's about attacking the obesity hormones that semaglutide injections and gastric bypass does very well," he said.

@scrippsnews A new study looks at how weight loss drugs (ie: #Ozempic) and weigh loss surgery (ie: gastric bypass) can improve weight loss plateaus. While #dieting, people reach their weight loss plateau at around a year on average. #Semaglutide can extend that for about another year. #weightloss #healthtok ♬ original sound - Scripps News