Semaglutide for Weight Loss: Was It Worth the Weight?

Cardiol Rev. 2022 Nov-Dec;30(6):324-329. doi: 10.1097/CRD.0000000000000430. Epub 2022 Jan 21.


Obesity is a major public health issue with an increasing prevalence worldwide. Excess body fat is associated with various comorbidities, as well as increased overall mortality risk. The benefits of weight loss are evident by the reductions in morbidity and mortality. The foundation for most weight loss programs involves strict lifestyle modification, including dietary change and exercise. Unfortunately, many individuals struggle with weight loss and chronic weight management due to difficulty adhering to long-term lifestyle modification and the metabolic adaptations that promote weight regain. The use of adjunctive pharmacotherapy has been employed to help patients not only achieve greater weight loss than lifestyle modification alone but also to assist with long-term weight management. Historically, antiobesity drugs have produced only modest weight loss and required at least once daily administration. Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), a hormone with significant effects on glycemic control and weight regulation, has been explored for use as adjunctive pharmacotherapy for weight loss. Semaglutide, a GLP-1 receptor agonist, was recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration for chronic weight management in adults with obesity or who are overweight. The approval came after the publication of the Semaglutide Treatment Effect in People with Obesity clinical trials. In these 68-week trials, semaglutide 2.4 mg was associated with significantly greater weight loss compared to placebo. Semaglutide differs from other GLP-1 receptor agonists by having a longer half-life and producing greater weight loss. This article provides an overview of the discovery and mechanism of action of semaglutide 2.4 mg, and the clinical trials that led to its approval.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Obesity Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / drug therapy
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 / therapeutic use
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor / agonists
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor / therapeutic use
  • Glucagon-Like Peptides
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / drug therapy
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Weight Loss


  • Anti-Obesity Agents
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • semaglutide
  • Glucagon-Like Peptides
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1