Dr. Julián Tamayo, from the Endocrinology, Nutrition and Metabolism Unit of Hospital Perpetuo Socorro, considers that new injectable treatments such as Liraglutide are effective allies for weight loss in obese patients.
It is estimated that by 2030, around 27 million Spanish adults, 80% of men and 55% of women, will have obesity or overweight problems. According to a study carried out by the Spanish Society of Cardiology (SEC), Asturias is the Spanish region with the highest obesity rate in adults (26%) and the Balearic Islands with the lowest (10%). In the case of the Canary Islands (20%), one in five adults suffers from obesity.
Although bariatric surgery is at the moment the most widespread surgical technique for weight loss treatments, medical-scientific advancement has allowed the development of the first highly effective drugs for the elimination of fat and that represent a real alternative to the surgery.
"New injectable treatments such as Liraglutide address the GLP-1 hormone, which regulates, among other things, the sensation of pleasure that certain foods produce, for which they have proven to be effective allies for weight loss in obese patients , offering a reinforcement to the plan and facilitating the elimination of fat more quickly by having that control over the appetite, ”says Dr. Julián Tamayo, specialist in the Endocrinology Unit of the Perpetuo Socorro Hospital.
"In HPS, the success rate of this drug within the weight loss plan exceeds 70% and can, in some cases, even be as effective as some surgical techniques for some patients," explains the specialist.
It is the most effective drug that exists today in Europe for weight loss
In his experience as an endocrinologist, he has seen weight loss of more than 15% of fat weight and up to 50 kilos with this treatment, always accompanied by a team of health professionals to carry out a comprehensive treatment. And the fact is that this last aspect is precisely something to highlight at Hospital Perpetuo Socorro, since, as Tamayo assures, the existence of a multidisciplinary team formed in addition to the endocrine, by specialists in nutrition and psychology is "something very important and that should be fundamental in all the centers where this type of treatment is carried out ”.
With individual and personalized sessions, the team addresses from factors that have to do with anxiety, to behavioral habits or ways of cooking, so that the patient can solve the problems that can contribute to weight gain. Dr. Tamayo emphasizes the importance of monitoring and accompanying each individual case: "The work of specialists is essential in this type of treatment because it must always be the doctor who indicates the appropriate dose at all times and depending on the evolution and progress of the patient ”, he emphasizes.
There are still very few approved injectable treatments, so Liraglutide is "one of the most effective currently available in Europe," says Dr. Tamayo, since together with the advice and accompaniment of a good medical team it is very useful to try to effectively form obesity and promote healthy lifestyle habits.
Beyond weight loss, it is about the objective of those patients who suffer from obesity to achieve healthy habits that help protect their health. For this reason, the commitment of the patient is very important since weight loss plans consist of four key pillars: diet, physical exercise, medication and perseverance. In this sense, "it must be taken into account that when some of the four begins to fail, the treatment in turn begins to fail," Tamayo warns.
Sport is a "key" factor, he assures, for the success of this joint treatment: "A good proportion of the cases that fail is because the patient does not start physical activity and healthy life," he emphasizes.
Weight loss accompanied by strength exercises, whether functional, with elastic bands and weights, "helps to achieve a more lasting result over time and more aesthetic" since the skin adheres better to the muscle and part of the flaccidity is eliminated. Although "what you lose weight with at first is with diet, what maintains it in the long term is exercise, mainly muscle strength," insists the HPS specialist.
How Liraglutide works
Liraglutide emerged for the treatment of diabetic patients because it helps control sugar levels, but in later studies it was discovered that it also has important effects on appetite control, anxiety and weight loss, mainly visceral fat from the body. patient.
The drug acts at various levels, in the brain, on the positive reward centers in which highly caloric foods work, so that the patient feels less need for them.
Another of the positive aspects of this drug is that it helps to improve inflammation markers, protects the heart and serves to reduce visceral fat, the one found in the organs and that causes, for example, cardiovascular complications.
This drug, approved by the European Medicines Agency for obesity in 2016 and which began to be marketed in 2017, is especially effective for those people with obesity who are "heavy peckers and who eat large volumes," says Tamayo. In addition, it helps the intestine to move more slowly, which causes the patient to feel full most of the day and, therefore, "eat less food and fewer calories," he adds.
HPS applies a comprehensive treatment, with a multidisciplinary medical team
The number of doses and the duration of treatment depends on each specific case and is analyzed by different specialists before starting. It is administered in doses that are injected once a day, subcutaneously and in a similar way to insulin, with a microscopic needle of just 6 millimeters that does not cause pain. The patient is explained how to do it so that, once the first dose is administered, they can continue at home.
The duration of treatment is variable and can range from 6 months to a year and a half, depending on each case. Dr. Tamayo emphasizes the need to develop the treatment in a "comprehensive" way because "when the patient understands life habits, the treatment not only goes faster, but is maintained in the long term."
Although the effectiveness of the drug depends on the weight of the patient, a good percentage of them lose more than 15% of their total weight, reaching in some cases up to 40%, says Dr. Tamayo. As with almost any weight loss technique, there may be a slight rebound effect, which is why the work of the multidisciplinary team is essential to help the patient maintain a healthy lifestyle: “The normal thing is that they continue to lose weight even after stopping. the treatment ”, indicates the specialist.
Obesity is a complex phenomenon that involves a brain response to hormone levels, insulin spikes, digestion disturbances, and other neurogenic signals. Comprehensive treatment manages to consciously take eating and healthy living to another level and, according to Tamayo, "the brain is the best ally for weight loss, so training and working on it is vital."
In short, internalize good habits and advice and support until the patient "feels safe to assimilate the change and continue alone, with a new healthy lifestyle," he concludes.