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Diabetes Meds Promote Weight Loss



Drugs that are designed to control type II diabetes can help obese diabetics lose weight, new research shows. In a groundbreaking new study recently published in the BMJ, scientists have discovered that glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1R) promotes weight loss in obese and overweight patients.

Danish endocrinologist Tina Vilsboll, from the University of Copenhagen and her colleagues, studied GLP-1R agonists (antidiabetic drugs) to learn of their effect on the weight of obese and overweight diabetic and nondiabetic patients. In essence they were curious to know if antidiabetic medicines could promote weight loss.

In order to find the answer they conducted an extensive analysis and review of 25 randomized controlled trials involving obese or overweight adults who received specific antidiabetic drugs (exenatide, liraglutide). Trial participants included diabetic and nondiabetics all of whom had a body mass index of 25 or greater.


Diabetes Medications Help Patients Lose Weight

Visboll's team learned that people who received GLP-1R agonists achieved significantly greater weight loss than people who did not take these antidiabetic medications. This effect was noted regardless of whether the participants were diabetic or nondiabetic but was greatest among people who did not have diabetes.

Even more remarkable, the researchers found that these medications had a positive effect on participants' blood pressure, cholesterol concentrations and glycemic control of patients with adult onset diabetes. 

But the team noted a few downsides as well. The GLP-1R agonists caused some participants to experience stomach problems i.e. feelings of nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. 

Still, the meta-analysis and data review provides evidence that certain medications which were designed for one function can yield other benefits, too.


Why Is This So Important?

GLP-1R agonists are used to treat type II diabetes mellitus. They specifically react with a hormone called glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1). This hormone is released from the small intestine immediately after you eat food. 

Scientists have studied this hormone and discovered that it has some remarkable effects on diabetes and weight loss. For example, it helps with glucose uptake, slows gastric emptying and food intake. 

GLP-1 slows digestion and suppresses appetite thereby promoting weight loss.

The GLP- 1 hormone needs to get into your cells to do its job. Therefore it must connect with a special lock called the glucagon like peptide -1 receptor or GLP-1R for short.

Pharmaceutical companies have begun manufacturing drugs that resemble the naturally occuring GLP-1 which they began selling to people with type II diabetes. These drugs are known as GLP-1 agonists because they perform the same function as natural GLP-1.

Well, since natural GLP-1 slows digestion and helps you feel fuller (and less likely to eat again until all the food is digested), it only makes sense that the agonists should have the same effect on the body.

Which brings us to why Villsboro's study is so important: GLP-1R agonists can help diabetic and nondiabetic overweight and obese people to lose weight. Even better, if overweight and obese people are able to achieve normal weight, it can drastically cut their chances of developing adult onset diabetes.

It's important to note, however, that although the potential benefits seem promising, Villsboro says that more research trials are needed to learn about its effects on cardiovascular disease.


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Article Sources 

Vilsboll, T., Christensen, M., Junker, A., Knop, F., & Gluud, L. (2012). Effects of glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists on weight loss: systematic review and meta-analyses of randomised controlled trials BMJ, 344 (jan10 2) DOI: 10.1136/bmj.d7771 

Lim, G., & Brubaker, P. (2006). Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 Secretion by the L-Cell: The View From Within Diabetes, 55 (Supplement_2) DOI: 10.2337/db06-S020


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