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Diabetes Drugs: Also Effective In Treating ‘Cravings’?

Drugs meant to help control Diabetes may reduce cravings. A new study analyses online posts by ordinary people reporting such effects from Mounjaro, Wegovy, Ozempic, and Trulicity. The medications may be useful against other societal scourges…

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Those very new drugs were initially hailed as a better way to help Type 2 Diabetes patients control their blood sugar. Now they’re being trumpeted by average folks as possible cures for other conditions including obesity and alcohol abuse.

What they did

Researchers from Virginia Tech wanted to analyse the current flood of social media posts claiming that the aforementioned anti-diabetes drugs do more than help people reduce cravings for stuff they shouldn’t eat. (In so doing, the medications help patients reduce their consumption of foods that would raise their A1C levels.) The drugs involved go by the trade names, Mounjaro, Wegovy, Ozempic, and Trulicity.

Across many different platforms and threads, social media posters reported, “a changing relationship with beer, wine, and liquor.”

According to an abstract of the study report: Scientists with the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute’s Addiction Recovery Research Center combined two different studies to build on existing research, including studies that showed the drugs were effective in reducing alcohol consumption in animal experiments.

Some 33,609 posts from 14,595 unique posters were captured and ‘unpacked’.

What they found

“Participants reported drinking less, experienced fewer effects of alcohol when they did drink it, and decreased [their] odds of binge drinking,” said Alexandra DiFeliceantonio, assistant professor at Fralin Biomedical Research Institute and one of the study’s co-authors.

Similar results were revealed among folks who related their experiences with weight loss under the drugs.

The takeaway

“These findings add to a growing literature that these medications may curb dangerous drinking habits,” said Warren Bickel, Virginia Tech Carilion Behavioral Health Research Professor at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC and corresponding author. “Although evidence supporting the use of these medications for alcohol use disorder is growing, the field still needs to learn considerably more about them, particularly in identifying the underlying mechanisms. We plan to contribute to that effort”

My take

I hope the researchers do as much additional research aimed at reducing obesity as they propose to do on the alcohol reduction angle. If you look at the numbers of folks affected, and the costs of treating them for all the ills associated with overweight and obesity, that ‘disorder’ is a much larger problem.

I think it’s pretty clear that folks taking the drugs for diabetes are also experiencing reduced cravings for a wide range of foods. And may simply be eating less as a result. But we need more solid scientific proof on this angle, too. Before starting to prescribe drugs like Ozempic or Wegovy routinely for treatment of obesity. Or alcohol abuse.

~ Maggie J.