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Diabetes drugs aid weight loss in obese patients

The diabetes drugs exenatide and liraglutide improve weight loss in overweight or obese patients, regardless of whether they have type 2 diabetes, concludes a Danish meta-analysis. 

Researchers analysed 25 randomised controlled trials involving 6,411 adult patients with a BMI of 25 or more, with or without type 2 diabetes. Of these, 3,395 participants received subcutaneous injections of GLP-1 receptor agonists exenatide (twice daily or once weekly) or liraglutide (once daily) for at least 20 weeks. Some 3,016 participants were given control interventions including placebo, oral antidiabetic drugs or insulin.

Patients who received exenatide or liraglutide achieved greater weight loss than control groups – with a weighted mean change of 2.9kg. Those patients in the treatment groups who did not have diabetes had a weighted mean difference of 3.2 kg, compared with 2.8kg in those with diabetes.

Exenatide and liraglutide also reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure, plasma concentrations of cholesterol and glycaemic control, but did not have a significant effect on plasma concentrations of liver enzymes.

Study lead Professor Tina Vilsbøll, associate professor and consultant endocrinologist at Gentofte Hospital, University of Copenhagen, said: ‘Since we only included trials that used clinically relevant doses given for clinically relevant treatment periods, the results can be extrapolated to clinical practice.'

BMJ, January 11, 2012


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