Communication is a skill. Weight loss is a sensitive topic. Combine those two together and you either have a recipe for disaster (involving tears and maybe a slammed door or two), or you have a conversation that can last the entire afternoon regarding the different types of treatments available for weight loss! When it comes to weight loss and the vast number of ‘treatments’ out there – does the Atkins diet, keto diet, alkaline diet, or Whole 30 diet sound familiar? – perhaps even an entire afternoon might not be enough to weigh the pros and cons that each weight loss diet can bring. And don’t even get started on how long it might take to see results! While diets are popular enough, there is one option that hardly gets the coverage it deserves. This option is Saxenda, and it is a prescription medication that aids in weight loss. If you’ve never heard of Saxenda before, this article will help you to understand just exactly what it is and how Saxenda can help with weight loss!
What is Saxenda?
So, first things first – what exactly is Saxenda? Saxenda is a weight loss medication in Singapore that can only be prescribed by your doctor. Recently, in 2021, Saxenda was recognised and recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) for use on the National Health Service in England for adults. This makes Saxenda the first treatment for weight management through the use of medication to be endorsed by NICE!
Saxenda is also known as ‘Liraglutide’ which is a glucagon-like peptide‐1 (GLP‐1) receptor agonist, because it has a 97% similarity to GLP-1. Let’s break that down.
In all our bodies, we need amino acids to function, 20 to be exact. These amino acids are organic compounds made out of nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Combinations of these amino acids in short chains are known as peptides, which all our bodily systems need to grow and function. Different body systems will have uses for different peptides, and this goes for our gastrointestinal tract as well. A ‘glucagon-like peptide-1’ (GLP-1) is a gastrointestinal peptide that is released in response to food intake – whenever we take in food, our stomachs and intestines sense it and begin to release GLP-1. On the other hand, an ‘agonist’ is a chemical that activates a receptor to produce a biological response, and a ‘receptor’ is a cellular protein whose activation causes the cell to modify what it is currently doing.
So, in short, Saxenda being a glucagon-like peptide‐1 (GLP‐1) receptor agonist means that it is a chemical substance which activates cells and modifies their behaviour, especially during food intake. More specifically, GLP-1 causes stimulation of insulin secretion, a reduction in plasma glucagon concentrations (which usually instructs the liver to convert glycogen into glucose), delayed gastric emptying, appetite suppression, and an increase in heart rate.
How Can It Help Weight Loss?
To zoom in on the effects of GLP-1 as mentioned above:
Saxenda helps with weight loss by suppressing appetite
GLP-1, when released in response to food intake, binds to receptors in the pancreas. This instructs the body to produce insulin, which helps to regulate blood sugar levels. It also sends signals to the parts of the brain which control hunger, giving the individual a greater feeling of satiety and in turn, prevents the person from excessive hunger or snacking.
Saxenda has a longer half-life in the body
Since GLP-1 usually has a half-life of 2 minutes (this means that it is naturally broken down within 2 minutes), Saxenda tweaked the naturally-occurring GLP-1 substance and changed one amino acid in the sequence so that it has a half-life of 13.5 hours! Hence, the reason why Saxenda is 97% similar to GLP-1. This means that the appetite suppressing effects can last for much longer when a person is taking Saxenda.
Saxenda skips the stomach acid
Because Saxenda is a natural peptide, it can easily be broken down by our stomach acid. That is why Saxenda is administered subcutaneously through injections once daily to avoid being broken down by the stomach acid and providing even greater efficacy.
Should I Use Saxenda?
The use of Saxenda in Singapore is usually recommended by a physician. You may be suitable for Saxenda if you:
- Are an adult with excess weight (BMI ≥27) who has weight-related medical problems or obesity (BMI ≥30).
- Are aged 12-17 years with a body weight above 132 pounds (60 kg) and experiencing obesity.
- Are using Saxenda in conjunction with a reduced calorie diet and increased physical activity.
Saxenda use is discouraged in those who are:
- Pregnant, or trying for a child – Saxenda can cause harm to the unborn child because weight loss does not provide any benefit to the mother carrying a life, and instead may cause harm to the growing foetus.
- Breastfeeding children, or plan to breastfeed – It is unknown whether Saxenda can be passed through breast milk, and should be avoided in the meantime.
- Have a family history of thyroid cancers – In studies of rats and mice with Saxenda, it was found that medicines which work similarly to Saxenda may trigger thyroid tumours, including thyroid cancer. Hence, having a strong history of thyroid cancers or an endocrine system condition called Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2) make Saxenda unsuitable for such individuals.
- Have severe gastrointestinal issues (such as problems with digesting food or delayed gastric emptying) – Saxenda has not been studied in individuals who have gastrointestinal problems such as gastroparesis.
Saxenda for weight loss in Singapore has been proven to be safe and effective when used correctly, and whether you are suitable or not can usually be assessed by a doctor. Studies reviewing its use have been shown that Saxenda induces weight loss and sustains it, and it is also recommended by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) for use in weight loss! If you believe that Saxenda can help you achieve your weight management goals, get in contact with us today for an evaluation by one of our team.