Nutrition and Hydration Week – the alternative to viral weight-loss drugs

Categories: School of Health and Society

This Nutrition and Hydration Week (13-19 March), an expert from the University of Salford, Nutrition and Exercise as Medicine programme leader Dr Anna Robins, speaks about the science behind weight-loss drugs and the dangers they can create.

“Weight-loss drugs such as Saxenda, also known as Liraglutide, have hit the headlines as a supplement to diet and exercise for those looking to lose weight quickly. 

“Saxenda is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist, which alongside stimulating the release of appropriate amounts of insulin, and mimicking the process of gluconeogenesis, also slows gastric emptying and supposedly increases the feeling of fullness after eating. Ironically, these physiological responses can occur naturally and effectively by following a healthy diet and an active lifestyle. 

“Unfortunately, it seems that people are all too quick to jump at the chance of getting their hands on a weight loss drug, yet are less keen to lead a healthy lifestyle. A healthy and active lifestyle requires effort and discipline, alongside self-care, and has so many benefits beyond just losing weight.

“While it might seem that weight-loss drugs offer an easy answer to tackling obesity, it would in fact be far more sustainable, and easier in the long term, to work on behaviour change techniques enabling people to live a healthy lifestyle. The expensive and risky option of purchasing a drug to do the job instead should not be considered an ‘easy’ choice, especially when it comes with some serious health warnings.

“There are no disadvantages to following a healthy diet and an active lifestyle, whilst the safety concerns with using Saxenda can include both acute gallbladder disease and pancreatitis, together with severe hypoglycaemia. 

“As the World Obesity Foundation warns that by 2035 more than half the world's population will be classed as obese or overweight, it is important we educate people on the best way to look after your weight. Your body is the vehicle taking you from your current position in life to the end, so why not look after it.

“If you need to lose weight (you can check on the NHS website here) then make the decision that you are going to look after yourself, and take some easy steps to change your lifestyle:

  • Increase your body’s ability to regulate blood glucose and the aligned hormones, by undertaking a minimum of 20 mins continuous walking three times a week. Increase this to every day when possible.
  • Reduce excess stored fat by reducing the amount of starchy carbohydrates you have at mealtimes.
  • Help yourself to feel full by having protein or a non-meat equivalent at each meal.
  • Reduce your excess sugar intake by cutting down the amount of processed foods and drink you have (cakes, fizzy drinks, crisps, sweets and chocolate).
  • Fuel your body appropriately by making sure the foods you eat are performing a function, such as providing vitamins, minerals, fibre, essential fats or amino acids. 

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