GLP-1 agonists and weight loss: up-to-date real-world data

Patients and practitioners often expect significant weight loss from type 2 diabetes therapy with GLP agonists. But is this realistic? A recent analysis looks into it.

Diabetes study set-up

Lifestyle contributes to obesity and diabetes

In most cases, people's lifestyle contributes to the development or exacerbation of type 2 diabetes. At the same time, dietary habits and lack of exercise lead to weight gain and obesity.

GLP-1 agonists are often prescribed to solve both problems. In the USA, this even goes as far as prescribing the drugs online to people who want to lose weight and pay a monthly fee for the programme.

GLP-1 agonists are not a silver bullet

The hope - and perhaps misleading promise - in these prescriptions is a rapid, effortless and significant weight loss. 

But what can the drug really do in this regard? A recent retrospective study investigated this very issue. Over 72 weeks, they measured the weight loss of overweight (mean BMI 37kg/m2) type 2 diabetics taking a GLP-1 agonist. The result may be sobering for some.

No drastic weight loss

Only about one third of participants had lost more than 5% of their body weight (bw) after 72 weeks. However, the analysis also showed that weight loss increased significantly after starting therapy with the GLP-1 agonist: from 1.1% of the bw after 8 weeks to an average of 2.2% of the bw after 72 weeks.

Diabetes therapy: The drug is only one pillar

GLP-1 agonists are therapeutically valuable drugs for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Although they lead to an overall weight loss, patients should be informed about the expected success. In addition, it is useful to encourage sufferers to adopt a healthy lifestyle and exercise. GLP-1 agonists are not a pure weight loss drug.