The NHS has responded to academic claims that a ‘miracle’ weight-loss jab could help overweight patients lose up to 10lbs within 4 weeks.
It comes following a new study, conducted by institutions in London and Copenhagen, which suggested that the hormone cocktail treatment could be an alternative to weight-loss surgery – which many patients struggle to have.
The recent research, which was funded by the UK’s Medical Research Council, involved a group of participants – each of whom had diabetes – who followed up for a period of a month while undertaking the hormone infusion.
Researchers concluded that administration of the “miracle” jab over a period of four weeks provided “substantial” weight loss of around 4.4kg.
It has since been the subject of significant media attention, leading the the NHS to weigh in on the research itself.
So what did the new research actually involve? And how have the results been interpreted?
The experimental study involved 15 people who were obese and had type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes.
These participants were hooked up to a pump which delivered a mixture of hormones for 12 hours a day, over 4 weeks.
Their weight loss results were compared to a group of 11 participants who were given a saline solution instead.
Everyone was weighed and tested for body fat, muscle mass and insulin response during the initial stages of the study.
Researchers ultimately wanted to investigate how certain hormones – which are raised in people who have had weight loss surgery – contribute to weight loss.
The NHS asserts that the study “was not designed” to test a weight loss jab, despite the researcher’s conclusion.
The study uncovered that those in the hormone infusion group lost an average of 4.4kg (9.7lbs), compared to a weight loss of 2.5kg (5.5lbs) in the saline group.
Additionally, calorie intake over 24 hours was reduced by 292.7kcal for people who were infused with the hormone and 168.5kcal for people who were infused with saline.
The researchers concluded that the infusion of hormones could be developed as an alternative to surgery, particularly for those unable to have the operation.
They said: “GOP infusion at home was feasible and well tolerated over a 4-week period [and] led to a substantial mean weight loss of 4.4kg.”
The hormones “may be responsible” for some of the benefits of weight loss surgery, they added, and is therefore a potential “viable alternative.”
The NHS said that it’s “wise to assume that anything described as a ‘miracle’ cure is being over-hyped.”
It said this was “certainly” the case for this recent study, which was not a clinical trial of a medicinal product – but an experimental protocol instead.
“It’s important to remember,” it said, “that the study was designed to better understand how weight loss surgery works, not to test a potential treatment.”
The small number of participants also sheds doubt on the validity of the conclusion as there’s “insufficient” information to be certain if such hormone infusion is “either safe or effective” as a weight-loss tactic.
It noted that it’s “far too early” to claim such a weight-loss jab will be approved for widespread use.
The NHS does however acknowledge that weight loss surgery, whilst effective, does present “significant side effects and should not be undertaken without trying other methods first.”
It said diet and exercise should “always be the first thing to focus on” if you need to lose weight.