A drug which has recently been approved for people with type 2 diabetes could be the latest tool in the battle against obesity.

Tirzepatide has been dubbed the ‘King Kong’ of weight-loss medication, with a recent study showing that it helped people who had already lost at least 5% of their body weight through diet and exercise lose a further 18.4% on average.

Last month, the drug was recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, for those people who can’t tolerate metformin.

Tirzepatide is taken as a weekly injection and works by suppressing the appetite. The study found that it could help people who typically put weight back on after shedding pounds through diet and exercise.

Study lead Professor Thomas Wadden, from the University of Pennsylvania, explained: “Slimmers often hit a wall, where they cannot get beyond losing five to 10% of their weight – but this drug could help them achieve substantially more.

“We also found that the drug helped to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol level, and control blood sugar.”

The potential impact of tirzepatide prompted leading type 2 diabetes expert Dr Julio Rosenstock to describe it as ‘King Kong’ in comparison to the ‘gorilla’ semaglutide, another weight-loss drug.

The study involved 806 people and began with a three-month weight-loss programme. After the three months, 579 participants had shed at least 5% of their weight and were eligible for tirzepatide.

Some were given the drug while others received a dummy injection. The results showed that those receiving tirzepatide went on to lose, on average, almost a fifth of their body weight. Those who received the dummy injection put on 2.5% of their body weight, on average.

The tirzepatide group lost almost six inches from their waistline.

Those who lost weight through lifestyle changes and then received tirzepatide lost a total of just over 24% of their body weight, on average.

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