According to a study published on, administering overweight or obese patients with peptide-1 (GLP-1) – a type of glucagon which is secreted from the intestine during eating and suppresses appetite, leads to clinically beneficial weight loss, as well as reduced blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

The recent introduction of GLP-1 based therapy as a new treatment for type-2 diabetes patients, due to its regulating ability of blood sugar levels, has also shown to suppress food intake and appetite. The discovery could be used as an interesting approach to treat obesity.

Researchers at the University of Copenhagen decided to establish the effect of glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor (GLP-1R) agonists on weight loss whilst studying their effect on blood pressure, cholesterol, liver enzyme levels, and blood sugar (glycemic) control. They evaluated results of 25 randomized controlled trials, accounting for differences in study design and quality to minimize bias, which involved more than 6,000 patients.

The results showed that patients administered with clinically relevant doses of GLP-1R agonists for at least 20 weeks achieved a greater weight loss compared with those in the control groups. Both patients with and without type-2 diabetes benefited from the therapy, although it may have been more pronounced in those without diabetes.

The researchers discovered that GLP-1R agonists also displayed beneficial effects on blood pressure, cholesterol, and improved glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes, but noted no statistically important effect on liver enzymes.

Participants experienced common side effects, such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. However, this did not appear to affect the number of patients dropping out of the trials, which indicates a relatively high overall patient satisfaction.

The researchers comment that their evaluation:

“..provides convincing evidence that GLP-1R agonists, when given to obese patients with or without diabetes, result in clinically relevant beneficial effects on body weight. Additional beneficial effects on blood pressure and total cholesterol might also be achieved.”

According to them, the intervention “should be considered in patients with diabetes who are obese or overweight” and recommend for further studies to be conducted, “to elucidate the effects of GLP-1R agonists in the treatment of obese patients without diabetes.”

Professor Raj Padwal from the University of Alberta writes in an accompanying editorial that whilst these findings underline the weight-reducing benefits of GLP-1 agonists, they should not change current practice, arguing that, “modification of diet and lifestyle remains the cornerstone of the treatment of type 2 diabetes.”

He also refers to the fact that the safety of GLP-1 agonists is still unknown, saying, “continued and close surveillance of these new agents using all available data sources is warranted.”

Written by Petra Rattue