About 35% of adult Americans, or about 100 million people, live with obesity. Liraglutide, an injectable diabetes drug that US regulators approved last year for weight loss, has helped obese people lose an average of 18 pounds (eight kilograms), revealed a new study. This could possibly be another approach in tackling the obesity epidemic in the country. Most patients involved in the study were able to keep the weight off for the duration of the 56-week study period with the drug marketed as Saxenda by Novo Nordisk.
This randomized, controlled trial was conducted at 191 sites in 27 countries in Europe, North America, South America, Asia, Africa and Australia. Patients in the study were 18 years and older and each had a body mass index of 30 or higher. Of the 3,731 study participants, about two thirds were given the drug plus training to improve their lifestyle habits, and the rest followed the same lifestyle intervention but were given a placebo. Neither patients or doctors knew if they were dealing with the real drug or the placebo.
Participants who received the drug were given a higher dose (three milligrams) than is prescribed for diabetes patients (1.8 milligrams), and were injected with the drug under the skin daily. While those in the placebo group lost an average of six pounds. People who were given the drug averaged about three times more weight loss. A total of 63% of those in the liraglutide group lost at least 5% of their body weight, compared to 27% in the placebo group.
Side effects of liraglutide included gastrointestinal distress, gallstones and a slight increase in breast cancer risk. The researchers suggested that more study is needed on the breast cancer findings, and said it was possible that weight loss enabled more tumors to be found.
The findings are published in the New England Journal of Medicine.