Obesity affects about 650 million adults across the globe and constitutes a significant public health issue worldwide. In Malaysia, the numbers are equally alarming – based on the 2015 National Health and Morbidi-ty Survey (NHMS), one out of three adults over the age of 18 are overweight, and 30.6% are obese.

“Obesity is a chronic medical condition that is known to cause serious health complications such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular complications, high blood pressure, and even cancers. It is also associated with lower life expectancy and impaired quality of life.

“Any person with obesity who loses just 5%-10% of their body weight will be likely to have significant improvements in health,” says Hospital Putrajaya consultant endocrinologist Dr Zanariah Hussein.

Consultant endocrinologist Dr Sue Pedersen from C-ENDO Diabetes & Endocrinology Clinic in Calgary, Canada, adds: “For most people with obesity, reducing weight and maintaining weight loss is a struggle.

“Many factors, including genetic factors, influence the tendency to put on weight within the context of our obesity-promoting environment. In some more severe cases of obesity, we may need to consider invasive treatments such as bariatric surgery.

“With the launch of Saxenda (liraglutide 3mg), healthcare professionals have an alternative option to help patients manage weight and its comorbidities early.”

Saxenda has a mechanism of action that is similar to the glucagon-like-peptide (GLP-1) hormone that our bodies produce to regulate appetite. By activating the areas of our brain that regulate appetite, this drug increases the feeling of fullness and satiety, which can lead to lower calorie intake and weight loss.

Four large scale clinical studies, involving around 5,700 patients, showed that nine out of 10 participants lost some weight by taking Saxenda, along with a low-calorie diet and increased physical activity, for a year and a month (56 weeks).

Those taking the once-daily injection had a 9.2% average weight loss at the one-year mark, while those taking the placebo had an average of 3.5%. Both groups reduced their calorie intake and increased their physical activity.

Within the group taking the drug, those with prediabetes also had the onset of diabetes delayed, type 2 diabetics saw improvement in their diabetes control, and all saw an improvement in their blood pressure and health-related quality of life.

“For people with obesity, it is not just about losing weight, it is about improving their health and enjoying better quality of life,” says Novo Nordisk Malaysia vice-president and general manager (Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Sri Lanka and Maldives) Richard Abela.

“With Saxenda, Novo Nordisk is pleased to offer a treatment option that is clinically proven to help people achieve meaningful weight loss. This launch in Malaysia is an important milestone in our long-term commitment to improving the lives of people with chronic diseases such as obesity in this country.”

Saxenda is approved by the Health Ministry to be prescribed for long-term weight management in adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 27kg/m² or more, who have weight-related medical problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes or obstructive sleep apnoea.

The patient must also go on a reduced-calorie diet and increase their physical activity.