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Injections against severe obesity

Published on April 04, 2024

Philipp Gerber, Clinical Head of Endocrinology at the Zurich Obesity Center, classifies.

Philipp Gerber, weight loss injections are on everyone’s lips. What is it about?

We have known about these active ingredients for many years and noticed early weight loss in people with diabetes and obesity. Two products are currently approved in Switzerland. Saxenda is covered by health insurance, but is currently difficult to obtain. From March 2024, the costs of the second product, Wegovy, will also be covered by health insurance. Although manufacturers are now ramping up production, availability will certainly remain difficult for some time to come. It is important that the products developed for people with diabetes remain available in this area of application.

How do weight loss injections work?

The currently approved products neither increase energy consumption nor “burn” fat. The active ingredient slows down gastric emptying and leads to a strong feeling of fullness. The weight loss effect occurs because people simply eat less.

How often does the injection have to be repeated and how long does the treatment last?

Saxenda is injected under the skin daily, Wegovy once a week using a pen. The dose is increased in steps to ensure good familiarization. After one month, most people have already lost around two to three kilograms. The products are used for at least several months.

What happens when the injection is discontinued?

This is what happens after every diet if diet and lifestyle have not been changed: Appetite increases and you gain weight again. For obesity sufferers in particular, however, an initial significant weight loss offers the chance that exercise and sport will be possible again. Additional movement can have a lasting effect.

To what extent are weight loss injections an option for our increasingly overweight society?

At the USZ, we clearly do not use the syringes as lifestyle diet aids. From a medical point of view, however, promoting weight loss in this way is to be welcomed in severely overweight people. This allows us to reduce the risk of secondary diseases such as type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular problems. From a cost perspective, too, it is ultimately cheaper to prevent cardiovascular problems than to finance rehabilitation after a heart attack.

Responsible specialist

Philipp Gerber, Prof. Dr. med.

Senior Attending Physician, Department of Endocrinology, Diabetology and Clinical Nutrition

Tel. +41 44 255 36 20
Specialties: Overweight and obesity, Dyslipidemia, Clinical nutrition