Semaglutide May Be Useful for Treating Obesity in People Without Diabetes

An insulin injector pen
An insulin injector pen
In combination with dietary and physical activity counseling, all semaglutide doses from 0.05-0.4 mg daily were tolerated and resulted in dose-related reductions in body weight among people with obesity without diabetes.

Semaglutide, a newly approved drug for diabetes, may be useful for treating obesity in people without diabetes, according to an abstract presented at ENDO 2018: The Endocrine Society Annual Meeting, held March 17-20 in Chicago, Illinois.1

Patrick M. O’Neil, PhD, director of the Weight Management Center and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, and colleagues conducted a multinational, randomized, double-blind, dose-ranging study ( Identifier: NCT02453711) to compare the use of semaglutide (0.05-0.4 mg once daily subcutaneously) with placebo and an active liraglutide control (3 mg once daily subcutaneously), each with dietary and physical activity counseling, for the treatment of obesity in 957 participants without diabetes.

At week 52, all participants receiving semaglutide had lost significantly more weight than those receiving placebo. The higher the dose of semaglutide, the greater the weight loss. Estimated mean weight losses from baseline to week 52 were -2.3% in the placebo group and -7.8% in the liraglutide group compared with -6.0% in the 0.05-mg semaglutide group (P =.001 vs placebo), -8.6% in the 0.1-mg semaglutide group, -11.6% in the 0.2-mg semaglutide group, -11.2% in the 0.3-mg semaglutide group, and -13.8% in the 0.4-mg semaglutide group (P <.0001 vs placebo for 0.1-0.4 mg).

In addition, 65% of participants who received 0.4 mg semaglutide daily lost at least 10% of their body weight, compared with only 10% of those in the placebo group and 34% in the liraglutide group. All semaglutide doses were generally tolerated, with the most common adverse events being dose-related gastrointestinal events, as are seen with other glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists.

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“This randomized study of weight loss induced with semaglutide in people with obesity but without diabetes has shown the highest weight reductions yet seen for any pharmaceutical intervention,” said Dr O’Neil in a press release.2 Further studies of semaglutide for obesity are underway.

Visit Endocrinology Advisor’s conference section for more highlights from ENDO 2018.


  1. O’Neil P, Birkenfeld AL, McGowan B, et al. A randomized, phase II, placebo- and active-controlled dose-ranging study of semaglutide for treatment of obesity in subjects without diabetes. Presented at: ENDO 2018: The Endocrine Society Annual Meeting; Chicago, IL; March 17-20, 2018. Abstract OR12-5.
  2. New diabetes drug may help people with obesity lose weight [press release]. Washington, DC: Endocrine Society. Published March 18, 2018. Accessed March 18, 2018.