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Diabetes Drug May Boost Weight Loss in Obese Patients

Combo of diet, exercise and injections helped non-diabetics shed pounds, study finds

FRIDAY, Oct. 23 (HealthDay News) -- The diabetes drug liraglutide helps obese people without diabetes lose weight, researchers have found.

The study authors also reported that high doses of liraglutide were more effective at helping people shed pounds than the weight-loss drug orlistat.

In the study, which included 564 diabetes-free obese patients aged 18 to 65 at 19 sites in Europe, participants were randomly selected to receive one of four injected doses of liraglutide (1.2 milligrams, 1.8 milligrams, 2.4 milligrams or 3 milligrams) or a placebo once a day, or 120 milligrams of orlistat three times a day.

All of the patients also increased their levels of physical activity and followed a calorie-restricted diet, which allowed for about 500 calories less per day than they needed.

Weight loss among patients taking liraglutide doses of 1.2, 1.8, 2.4 and 3 milligrams was 4.8 kilograms (10.5 pounds); 5.5 kilograms (12 pounds); 6.3 kilograms (14 pounds), and 7.2 kilograms (15.8 pounds), respectively, compared with 4.1 kilograms (9 pounds) with orlistat and 2.8 kilograms (6 pounds)with placebo. Weight loss of more than 5 percent occurred in 76 percent of patients taking 3 milligrams of liraglutide, 44 percent of patients taking orlistat, and 30 percent of patients in the placebo group, the researchers found.

Reduced blood pressure was noted in all of the patients taking liraglutide. The groups taking 1.8 to 3 milligrams of liraglutide had an 84 percent to 96 percent reduction in the prevalence of prediabetes, which is poor blood glucose control that's not yet bad enough to qualify as diabetes.

Nausea and vomiting was more common among patients taking liraglutide than among those in the placebo group, the study authors noted.

"The results of this study indicate the potential benefit of liraglutide, in conjunction with an energy-deficit diet, in the treatment of obesity and associated risk factors," wrote Dr. Arne Astrup, of the department of human nutrition at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and colleagues.

Additional studies with a follow-up longer than 20 weeks are now needed to investigate the long-term risk/benefit profile of liraglutide, the study authors noted.

The study was released online Oct. 22 in advance of publication in an upcoming print issue of The Lancet.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases outlines the health risks of being overweight.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: The Lancet, news release, Oct. 22, 2009

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