Scientists have confirmed that obese individuals who don’t have diabetes can lose weight using a diabetes drug called liraglutide.

The above conclusion has been made by researchers after they found that 63% of the study participants who were given liraglutide for 56 consecutive weeks lost a minimum of 5% of their total body weight. On the other hand, only 27% of participants in the placebo group experienced that much weight loss. According to experts, for obese people, losing 5% of the total body weight is essential for making a difference in health problems linked to obesity.

Dr. Xavier Pi-Sunyer of Columbia University Medical Center in New York, who teaches medicine at the university, said that liraglutide is an extremely effective drug and provides doctors with another useful option for treating patients who are either struggling to lose weight or are looking for a way to maintain a healthy body weight after weight loss.

Dr. Pi-Sunyer is the first author of the study. The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday (NEJM), July 1. The research has been funded by Novo Nordisk, the company that manufactures liraglutide.

Weight Loss

Liraglutide was made available in the United States as a medicine for treating diabetes in 2010. It mimics the actions of glucagon-like peptide-1, a naturally occurring hormone. This hormone gets released in human intestine and increases satiety, slows the speed at which the stomach sends food items to the small intestine and finally reduces appetite.

Last December, the US Food & Drug Administration approved the drug for treating obesity. The dose of liraglutide required for treating obesity is higher than that dose used for treatment of diabetes.

During this new study, the team under Pi-Sunyer formed a group of 3,731 obese men and women. The members in the group had BMI (body mass index) of 30 or more; participants with high blood pressure or high cholesterol, on the other hand, had a minimum BMI of 27.

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Around 2,500 patients were given a dose of 3.0 mg liraglutide every day. Around 1,200 participants, on the other hand, received a placebo shot daily. In addition, they also received counseling about ways of changing lifestyle for promoting weight loss.

The process continued for 56 weeks, after which it was found that people in the liraglutide group experienced an average weight loss of 18.5 pounds. The average weight loss experienced by those in the placebo group was, however, just 6.4 pounds.