Liraglutide Boosted Weight Loss in Type 2 Diabetes

Average weight loss was 6% with 3.0-mg dose and 4.7% with the 1.8-mg dose.

When compared with placebo, daily injection of the diabetes drug liraglutide induced greater weight loss over 56 weeks in overweight and obese patients with type 2 diabetes, according to data published in JAMA.

Moderate weight loss of 5% to 10% can improve glycemic control and other cardiometabolic risk factors, but this can be difficult for obese patients with type 2 diabetes, as their response to weight-loss drugs is reduced compared with those without diabetes. However, liraglutide — a drug approved for treatment of type 2 diabetes — has been linked to significant weight loss.

To more closely evaluate whether liraglutide can help patients with type 2 diabetes lose weight, researchers randomly assigned 846 overweight and obese participants with type 2 diabetes to once-daily injections of liraglutide 3.0 mg (N=423), liraglutide 1.8 mg (n=211) or placebo (n=212) for 56 weeks at 126 sites in nine countries.

The researchers also evaluated participants during a 12-week follow-up period after stopping liraglutide to determine treatment-cessation effects.

Participants also followed a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity.

At baseline, participants in the liraglutide 3.0-mg group weighed 105.7 kg, those in the liraglutide 1.8-mg group weighed 105.8 kg and those in the placebo group weighed 106.5 kg, the researchers reported.

After treatment, results revealed an average weight loss of 6.0% in the liraglutide 3.0-mg dose group, 4.7% in the liraglutide 1.8-mg dose group and 2.0% in the placebo group.

The researchers observed weight loss of at least 5% in 54.3% of participants taking liraglutide 3.0 mg and 40.4% of those taking liraglutide 1.8 mg vs. 21.4% of those taking placebo. Additionally, weight loss of at least 10% occurred in 25.2% of those taking liraglutide 3.0 mg and 15.9% of those taking liraglutide 1.8 mg vs. 6.7% in those taking placebo.

Participants experienced more gastrointestinal problems with liraglutide 3.0 mg, as compared with the 1.8-mg dose and placebo. There were no reports of pancreatitis.

“To our knowledge, this is the first study specifically designed to investigate the efficacy of liraglutide for weight management in patients with type 2 diabetes and also the first study to investigate liraglutide at the higher 3.0-mg dose in a population with type 2 diabetes,” the researchers wrote.

“In the present trial, liraglutide (3.0 mg), as an adjunct to a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity, was effective and generally well tolerated and was significantly better than placebo on all 3 co-primary weight-related end points.”

The researchers noted, however, that longer-term efficacy and safety needs to be assessed in further studies.


  1. Davies MJ et al. JAMA. 2015;314(7):687-699.