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FITNESS, HEALTH, WELLNESS

Latest news

Unexpected benefits of weight loss drugs revealed

Studies show GLP-1 drugs have benefits beyond weight loss
They can be used to treat mental health, addictions, some eating disorders and neurodegeneration
As well as suppressing appetite, it appears they can also suppress addictive cravings
Neuroinflammation is dampened down and cognition and emotional processing areas of the brain stimulated

According to a number of recent studies, semaglutide weight-loss drugs can be effective in treating depression, anxiety, dementia, addiction and some eating disorders.

There is a great deal of research, and more ongoing, which shows the broad-ranging benefits of weight loss drugs, which could potentially lead to them being prescribed for a range of illnesses in the future.

The drugs work for weight loss by mimicking the hormone, glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), which is produced by the gut and brain, and leads to an increased feeling of satiety. As GLP-1 receptors are peppered throughout the brain – including areas important for cognitive functions and emotional control, such as the prefrontal cortex, hippocampus and amygdala – research shows that stimulating these receptors could be beneficial for other health issues too.

Rodrigo Mansur, from the University of Toronto, led a small study giving liraglutide to 19 people with major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder and within a month they reported better mood, attention span and cognitive function. MRI scans of the participants’ brains revealed that the areas involved in planning, organisation and emotional processing significantly increased in volume within a month. Mansur is now conducting a randomised controlled trial to investigate the ability of GLP-1 drugs to directly treat mood disorders.

GLP-1 has also been shown to increase the brain’s blood flow, slow down the death of nerve cells and promote the flow of glucose to the brain, which is an incredibly sugar-hungry organ, consuming up to 20 per cent of calories. Some studies show that GLP-1 modulates the transport of glucose across the blood-brain barrier, slows the rate at which the brain consumes glucose, reduces oxidative stress and damps down inflammation, which leads to cardiovascular benefits.

Some studies have shown benefits of treating brain diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, which are characterised by neuroinflammation. Pharmaceutical company, Novo Nordisk, is currently working on two trials testing semaglutide for Alzheimer’s disease. There is hope these drugs could also help other brain conditions, such as epilepsy and stroke.

A study at Penn State Neuroscience Institute used anti-obesity drugs to treat opioid addiction and found a 40 per cent reduction in opioid cravings over three weeks compared with those receiving a placebo. Researchers suspect the drugs target addiction in a similar way to hunger drive, by influencing the two areas of the brain involved with reward processing and cravings. A larger trial is now underway.

Last year, University of Oklahoma found that semaglutide was more effective in helping people with binge eating disorder than the only medication currently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for this condition. Other evidence suggests that GLP-1s might also help treat bulimia nervosa, an eating disorder which presents as bingeing and purging.

However, there are a few snags with what appears to be a wonder drug. Widespread use of weight-loss medication might lead to further idealisation of slim bodies. It is not yet known if people who aren’t overweight can take GLP-1s safely for mental health reasons alone, as reducing their appetite could lead to malnourishment or becoming critically underweight. For this reason they are not suitable for people suffering from the eating disorder, anorexia nervosa, even though it often stems from anxiety and is an addiction to restricting food.

The research studies have been published in New Scientist magazine.

Related news

Equinox launches specialist programmes for members on weight loss drugs

18 Jan 2024
Equinox has created an educational programme for its performance coaches that will enable them to ...
Related features

Policy: Weighing in

Health Club Management 2023 issue 6
A £40m pilot for the delivery of weight loss drugs, such as Wegovy, is creating opportunities for the sector

Editor's letter: Weight loss drugs

Health Club Management 2023 issue 6
Weight loss drugs are hitting the mainstream, with pilot programmes underway. Liz Terry examines the threats and opportunities this creates for the sector
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When people experience early life trauma it impacts their bodies and nervous systems. I became curious about how lifting weights could help them have the experience of strength
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Latest news

Unexpected benefits of weight loss drugs revealed

Studies show GLP-1 drugs have benefits beyond weight loss
They can be used to treat mental health, addictions, some eating disorders and neurodegeneration
As well as suppressing appetite, it appears they can also suppress addictive cravings
Neuroinflammation is dampened down and cognition and emotional processing areas of the brain stimulated

According to a number of recent studies, semaglutide weight-loss drugs can be effective in treating depression, anxiety, dementia, addiction and some eating disorders.

There is a great deal of research, and more ongoing, which shows the broad-ranging benefits of weight loss drugs, which could potentially lead to them being prescribed for a range of illnesses in the future.

The drugs work for weight loss by mimicking the hormone, glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), which is produced by the gut and brain, and leads to an increased feeling of satiety. As GLP-1 receptors are peppered throughout the brain – including areas important for cognitive functions and emotional control, such as the prefrontal cortex, hippocampus and amygdala – research shows that stimulating these receptors could be beneficial for other health issues too.

Rodrigo Mansur, from the University of Toronto, led a small study giving liraglutide to 19 people with major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder and within a month they reported better mood, attention span and cognitive function. MRI scans of the participants’ brains revealed that the areas involved in planning, organisation and emotional processing significantly increased in volume within a month. Mansur is now conducting a randomised controlled trial to investigate the ability of GLP-1 drugs to directly treat mood disorders.

GLP-1 has also been shown to increase the brain’s blood flow, slow down the death of nerve cells and promote the flow of glucose to the brain, which is an incredibly sugar-hungry organ, consuming up to 20 per cent of calories. Some studies show that GLP-1 modulates the transport of glucose across the blood-brain barrier, slows the rate at which the brain consumes glucose, reduces oxidative stress and damps down inflammation, which leads to cardiovascular benefits.

Some studies have shown benefits of treating brain diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, which are characterised by neuroinflammation. Pharmaceutical company, Novo Nordisk, is currently working on two trials testing semaglutide for Alzheimer’s disease. There is hope these drugs could also help other brain conditions, such as epilepsy and stroke.

A study at Penn State Neuroscience Institute used anti-obesity drugs to treat opioid addiction and found a 40 per cent reduction in opioid cravings over three weeks compared with those receiving a placebo. Researchers suspect the drugs target addiction in a similar way to hunger drive, by influencing the two areas of the brain involved with reward processing and cravings. A larger trial is now underway.

Last year, University of Oklahoma found that semaglutide was more effective in helping people with binge eating disorder than the only medication currently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for this condition. Other evidence suggests that GLP-1s might also help treat bulimia nervosa, an eating disorder which presents as bingeing and purging.

However, there are a few snags with what appears to be a wonder drug. Widespread use of weight-loss medication might lead to further idealisation of slim bodies. It is not yet known if people who aren’t overweight can take GLP-1s safely for mental health reasons alone, as reducing their appetite could lead to malnourishment or becoming critically underweight. For this reason they are not suitable for people suffering from the eating disorder, anorexia nervosa, even though it often stems from anxiety and is an addiction to restricting food.

The research studies have been published in New Scientist magazine.

Related news

Equinox launches specialist programmes for members on weight loss drugs

18 Jan 2024
Equinox has created an educational programme for its performance coaches that will enable them to ...
Related features

Policy: Weighing in

Health Club Management 2023 issue 6
A £40m pilot for the delivery of weight loss drugs, such as Wegovy, is creating opportunities for the sector

Editor's letter: Weight loss drugs

Health Club Management 2023 issue 6
Weight loss drugs are hitting the mainstream, with pilot programmes underway. Liz Terry examines the threats and opportunities this creates for the sector

Latest news

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As United Fitness Brands gears up to launch its fifth Reformcore location at Battersea Power
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Innovatise UK Ltd
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HCM promotional features
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The practice of prolonging the life of gym equipment through careful refurbishment is gaining traction
HCM promotional features
Sponsored
At the heart of the Sydney Swans new headquarters in Australia is an elite player-focused training facility by strength equipment specialist BLK BOX
HCM promotional features
Sponsored
We all know we need to stand more. Now an exciting new partnership between Physical and Teca Fitness expands this thinking into UK gyms and beyond
HCM promotional features
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Life Fitness has reimagined cardio with the launch of its Symbio line which has been designed with advanced biomechanics and offers deep levels of customisation
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Founder, Trauma Informed Weight Lifting
When people experience early life trauma it impacts their bodies and nervous systems. I became curious about how lifting weights could help them have the experience of strength
HCM magazine
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Mark Tweedie

Associate, Miova
I’d love to see a national wellness service working hand in glove with NHS primary care
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Company profiles
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Keepme is the industry innovator delivering AI-integrated sales and membership solutions to fitness operators globally....
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Catalogue Gallery
Click on a catalogue to view it online
Featured press releases
Active IQ press release: Industry heavyweight David Stalker joins Active IQ as independent adviser
David Stalker, President of EuropeActive and a CIMSPA chartered fellow is joining Active IQ from July 2024.
Featured press releases
Greenwich Leisure Limited press release: London Youth Games concludes at Copper Box Arena
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Directory
Cryotherapy
Art of Cryo: Cryotherapy
Salt therapy products
Himalayan Source: Salt therapy products
Flooring
Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
Lockers
Crown Sports Lockers: Lockers
Spa software
SpaBooker: Spa software
Snowroom
TechnoAlpin SpA: Snowroom
Property & Tenders
Chiswick, Gillingham, York and Nottingham
Savills
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Cleveland Lakes, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire
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Diary dates
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IMPACT Exhibition Center, Bangkok, Thailand
Diary dates
08-10 Sep 2024
Wyndham® Lake Buena Vista Disney Springs™ Resort, Lake Buena Vista, United States
Diary dates
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Diary dates
20-22 Sep 2024
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Diary dates
01-04 Oct 2024
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Diary dates
09-13 Oct 2024
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Diary dates
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Diary dates
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Diary dates
04-07 Nov 2024
In person, St Andrews, United Kingdom
Diary dates
04-06 Feb 2025
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Diary dates
11-13 Feb 2025
Fairmont Riyadh , Saudi Arabia
Diary dates
10-13 Apr 2025
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Diary dates
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Diary dates
28-31 Oct 2025
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Diary dates
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