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Is There a More Sustainable Approach to Weight Loss than Injectable Drugs?

Ingredient solutions like the multiple-award-winning and patented mineral-enriched prebiotic fibre complex, SlimBiome®, provide an accessible, convenient and effective way for consumers to manage their weight.


AUTHOR: Stephen O’Hara, OptiBiotix Health Plc, CEO

The world is currently gripped by the next big weight loss trend.

Celebrities love it and consumers are doing anything to get their hands on it. The viral media sensation around injectable weight loss drugs – semaglutide, liraglutide and tirzepatide – can no longer be ignored by those in the weight management industry.

For many consumers, solutions that focus on reducing hunger and food cravings – like injectable drugs – can feel like the ‘silver bullet’ to weight loss they have been waiting for. Yet according to governing bodies like the World Health Organization, these weight loss solutions are not the ‘be all and end all’ to the obesity crisis1. Those in the industry know that consumers are hungry for weight loss solutions that demonstrate results within the first two weeks, but the question is, at what cost?

Why do people feel the need to lose weight – and fast?

The ramifications of celebrity culture and social media are far-reaching. For many consumers, the desire to lose weight fast comes from a cyclical need to blame and shame themselves for being overweight, obese or simply ‘not healthy enough’. This peer pressure to maintain an outwardly healthy appearance is mentally exhausting and naturally leads to cravings, especially when consuming fewer calories. For example, when stressed, the body sends out signals whereby it increases cortisol levels, making us reach for something sugary to help relax us with a boost of serotonin2. While physical exercise also offers that same boost of serotonin, the convenience of a sugary snack far outweighs the alternative.

Losing weight fast is also part and parcel of celebrity culture. The ‘no carbs before marbs’ and ‘no pizza before Ibiza’ rules have been drummed into every consumer year after year. The last-minute diet before Christmas to fit into the party dress and the New Year’s resolution are now staples of the weight loss industry. Yet according to a meta-analysis of 29 weight loss studies, only one in five individuals that are overweight are successful in their long-term weight loss goals3. In fact, more than half of those who lost weight, regained it within two years4. This is largely due to unsustainable weight loss programmes. 


Appetite reduction

Weight loss is no longer as simple as calories in versus calories out. Those that have battled the bulge throughout their lives are seeking instant weight loss satisfaction – and injectable weight loss drugs are offering that easier route to success on a plate. So why wouldn’t they take it?

Yet where there’s reward, there’s also plenty of risk. Today, almost half of the US population meet the Food and Drug Administration criteria for taking injectable weight loss medications5, while in the UK there is a rapidly escalating diabetes crisis in the under 40s age category6 with two thirds of all adults above a healthy weight7. Although France and Italy fare better than both countries, those that are overweight and obese still top the scales at 45% and 46%, respectively8. For those that are taking injectable medications for weight loss as prescribed by their doctor, up to 68% are reported to stop taking them within a year9. It has been suggested that this is due to unpleasant gastrointestinal side effects.

Injectable medications use a glucagon-like peptide (GLP) inhibitor to help reduce hunger and cravings, therefore reducing dependence on willpower alone. While unpleasant side effects have been noted, including a recent investigation by the European Medicines Agency on how they affect mood and mental health10, there is also the possibility that – when taken for extended periods – muscle loss, bone loss or rapid weight loss could occur11. As a result, many consumers want a less invasive and user-friendly approach to weight loss, which offer little to no reported side effects. The good news is that there are alternatives available on the market.

More sustainable alternatives

OptiBiotix addresses weight management by developing products that lead to healthy and sustainable weight loss by reducing hunger and cravings, leading to consumers changing how much, how frequently, and what they eat. Ingredient solutions like the multiple-award-winning and patented mineral-enriched prebiotic fibre complex, SlimBiome®, provide an accessible, convenient and effective way for consumers to manage their weight.

It works in a not-dissimilar way to a GLP. By gently expanding in the stomach to help consumers feel fuller for longer, the functional ingredient helps to manage peaks in blood glucose levels, thus reducing food cravings for sweet and savoury foods. For this reason, SlimBiome helps consumers to help themselves, rather than relying on willpower alone. Not only does it contain natural prebiotic fibres that support the gut microbiome, but the ingredient also features glucomannan, which can claim to contribute to the reduction of body weight in the context of an energy-restricted diet12. In addition, an essential trace mineral chromium picolinate contributes to the maintenance of normal blood glucose level13 and macronutrient metabolism14.

A number of clinical human studies have shown that SlimBiome can reduce hunger and food cravings. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study, carried out by Oxford Brookes University15, showed it reduced hunger by 10%, food cravings by 11%, and reduced the amount of food intake by 49%.

A second study by the University of Roehampton16 demonstrated a 21% reduction in food cravings and a 26% improvement in mood. The study also showed that 90% of volunteers lost weight, reduced their body fat, and showed a reduction in hip and waist circumference. It was also noted in both studies that no side effects were recorded.

Sustaining weight loss

Perhaps the biggest issue of all for consumers is not in losing weight, but in sustaining and maintaining what they’ve lost. By working with leading UK scientists and academics, such as the current president of the European Association for the Study of Obesity (EASO) Professor Jason Halford, who is a world expert on obesity, eating behaviour, and appetite control, is a way the industry can develop sustainable solutions to help consumers maintain their weight loss goals.

Professor Halford was among those who assisted the OptiBiotix team to develop SlimBiome. Focusing on the mechanism of action, ergo how the ingredients in SlimBiome synergistically combine to deliver results, has been a major differentiator in the weight management market. Solutions like SlimBiome that focus on increasing microbiome diversity to promote better gut health and that assist in appetite regulation are the key to helping consumers understand how to handle their hunger and craving cues.

To illustrate this, OptiBiotix is focusing its efforts on creating new and engaging formats with SlimBiome to help consumers help themselves. While some consumers prefer a structured hunger-free meal replacement weight loss plan, others prefer functional foods like healthy desserts such as chocolate bars, mousses or ice creams, and snacks like soups, crisp puffs or health bars.

OptiBiotix wants to empower consumers to make a guilt-free choice to either lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. In this way, solutions like SlimBiome can help keep hunger cravings at bay to reduce calorie intake, or just help consumers avoid the temptation of eating unhealthy snacks that offer little in the way of nutrition, making it more sustainable than other weight loss methods.

A new wave in weight management

There is no doubt about it – injectable medications are delivering promising results for obese and overweight individuals. However, they are not a silver bullet to weight loss and those that are looking for more accessible solutions should trust in clinically proven alternatives that can improve gut health, retain muscle and deliver a leaner body shape – without any unpleasant side effects.

The new wave of weight management may be here, but the future for scientifically validated solutions that support sustainable weight loss looks very promising. 

OptiBiotix Health PLC

Established in 2012, OptiBiotix Health PLC (‘OptiBiotix’) is a global market leader in microbiome modulation biotechnology. The company develops and commercializes microbial strains and functional fibre blends that improve health and wellbeing. It specializes in producing science-backed compounds for use in food, dietary supplements and pharmaceuticals that prevent and manage human metabolic diseases including obesity, cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol and diabetes. 

For further information visit: https://optibiotix.com/

References:
1. World Health Organization via Daily Mail, May 2023. Accessed November 2023. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-12077333/WHO-obesity-chief-warns-Wegovy-NOT-silver-bullet-worlds-epidemic.html
2. Huffpost, The science behind why you crave sugar when you’re stressed, December 2017. 3,4. Harvard Health, What is a successful mindset for weight loss maintenance?, May 2022. 5, 9. Washington Post, How to make powerful new obesity drugs available to all, November 2023 6. Andrew Gregory, The Guardian, ‘UK in ‘rapidly escalating’ diabetes crisis as cases top 5m, report says’, April 2023.
7, 8. Sue Quinn, BBC, ‘Why do these two countries have among the lowest obesity rates in Western Europe?’, September 2023
10. European Medicines Agency, EMA statement on ongoing review of GLP-1 receptor agonists, July 2023 11. Insider.com, March 2023 12. EFSA Journal 2010;8(10):1798
13, 14. EFSA Journal 2010;8(10):1732
15. Ahlstrom, L et al (2018) Preliminary investigation into the effects of SlimBiome on food cravings and responsiveness to the food environment in healthy overweight and obese women following standard nutritional advice. Proceedings of Nutrition Society 77, E229
16. Costabile, A et al (2020) A pilot study to assess the effect of a fibre and mineral formulation on satiety and satiation when taken as part of a calorie restriction diet in overweight and obese women. Journal of Functional Foods 74, 104157

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