You may have heard that type 2 diabetes is becoming much more common these days. In fact, there are now more than 29 million adults who have the disease! Plus, there are about 86 million people who have prediabetes, and about one-third of them will go on to get diabetes.
Many of these people will need to take medicines at some point during their lives to help keep their blood sugar under control. There are many different types of medicines out there for people with diabetes. As scientists study the disease and learn more about it they are able to come up with new ways to treat it.
An added benefit of some diabetes medicines is that they can help you lose weight. This is important for people with type 2 diabetes because weight loss can make it easier to control blood sugar and lower the risk for diabetes-related complications. The results of a recent study suggest that the diabetes medicine Victoza could help you lose weight and keep it off.
What is Victoza?
Victoza, also called “liraglutide,” is a newer diabetes medicine that you give yourself as a shot. It works to control blood sugar by increasing the amount of insulin released by your body after you eat. It also can decrease feelings of hunger and increase feelings of fullness—these two things can help you lose weight.
Past studies showed that Victoza helped people with type 2 diabetes lose weight. After seeing these results scientists wanted to know the answer to two more questions:
- Does continuing to take Victoza help you keep off the weight you’ve lost?
- Does a larger dose of it help you lose more weight?
In order to answer these questions, scientists did another study. It included 846 adults who were overweight or obese and also had type 2 diabetes. They were then divided into 3 groups:
- This group got a lower dose of Victoza (1.8 milligrams)
- This group got a larger dose of Victoza (3 milligrams)
- This group did not take Victoza
Everyone in the study was also started on a healthy diet and exercise plan. The study lasted 13 months. At the start, everyone had their weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels checked. These tests were repeated at the end of the study.
What the researchers wanted to know was weather the larger dose of Victoza lead to the most weight loss and most improvement in other test results.
The results of the study showed that the group that took the larger dose of Victoza:
- Lost and kept off more weight than the other groups—an average of about 6-percent of body weight
- Had small improvements in blood pressure and cholesterol levels, compared to the other 2 groups
The most common side effects of Victoza are nausea and vomiting. About two-thirds of the people who took the large dose had one of these, compared to about half in the low dose Victoza group, and about one-third in the group that didn’t take Victoza.
What do these results mean for you?
Past studies have found that losing 5 to 10-percent of body weight can lower your risk for heart disease and other diabetes-related complications. The results of this study suggest that if you have diabetes, the larger dose of Victoza could help you lose enough weight to have a big impact on your overall health.
However, there are a few important things you should know about this study that could affect the meaning of the results. First, the study was run and paid for by the company that makes Victoza, so it doesn’t come as a big surprise that they found good results. The results could be true, but more studies are needed to be sure.
Second, this was a fairly small study—even though 846 people might sound like a lot, it’s actually a pretty small group compared to the 29 million people who have diabetes. Plus, the study lasted only 13 months, which isn’t really that long when you consider the fact that many people with diabetes have to take medicine for more than 10 years. Again, larger and longer studies might find the same results as the current study, but until those studies are done, it’s impossible to know.
You don’t have to worry about these things just yet, since the larger dose is not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
The take home points
- Diabetes affects almost 30 million adults in the US today
- Many of these people need to take medicine to help control their blood sugar
- Victoza is a newer diabetes medicine that can help you control your blood sugar and lose weight
- In the future, a larger dose of Victoza might be used to help you lose enough weight to lower your risk for heart disease and other diabetes-related complications
- If you have any questions about what you read here, talk to your healthcare provider at your next office visit