Novo NordiskSigns are growing that the diabetes drug Ozempic (semaglutide) from Novo Nordisk can support weight loss in overweight and obese individuals.

A recent JAMA study involving overweight and obese individuals gave recipients a 2.4-mg subcutaneous dose of semaglutide once weekly for 20 weeks. After that period, investigators continued administering the drug to half of the participants while giving the placebo to the remainder for an additional 48 weeks.

The group that continued to receive semaglutide lost an average of 7.9% of their body weight from week 20 to week 68. By contrast, placebo recipients gained 6.9% of their body weight in the same time frame.

Complicating matters were gastrointestinal side effects, reported in 49.1% of participants who continued to receive subcutaneous semaglutide. A total of 26.1% of placebo recipients also reported gastrointestinal side effects.

The study authors conclude that semaglutide supports weight loss by improving appetite control given its activation of the brain’s hypothalamus and area postrema.

The study results build on data published earlier this year in JAMA and The New England Journal of Medicine. That data concluded that after the 68-week study, 611 patients given weekly semaglutide lost an average of 16% of their body weight while the placebo group lost 5.7%.

A separate group of researchers reported in 2020 that the drug lowered body weight in rodents, given its impact on neural pathways.