Can diabetic drugs help you lose weight? Here’s what experts say

Can diabetic drugs help you lose weight? Here’s what experts say
Representative image
  • GLP1 receptor agonists and SGLT2 inhibitors — are the new types of drugs which have been found to be effective in helping diabetics lose weight.
  • These drugs remove glucose from the body via urinary excretion, thereby removing calories from the body.
  • India has only one approved weight loss drug and that too is very mild, doctors say and helps lose only 4% of body weight.
People who take diabetic drugs often witness changes in their body weight during the course of their treatment. However, new anti-diabetic drugs coming in the market are found to be very effective in weight loss, in addition to controlling blood glucose levels.

Does that mean these drugs can be used for the purpose they are not originally intended – only for weight loss? The world’s richest man and the new owner of Twitter, Elon Musk seems to think so.

In a tweet, he credited Wegovy as his secret of losing over 13 kilos. Wegovy is an injectable type-2 diabetes drug by Novo Nordisk, which is also indicated for weight loss.

How do these drugs cause weight loss?


Apart from the injectable, GLP1 receptor agonists and SGLT2 inhibitors are other types of diabetic drugs available in the market that have been found to be effective for weight loss.

“These drugs act through various mechanisms, for instance, they work by increasing the removal of glucose from the body via urinary excretion, thereby leading to the loss of calories from the body,” Dr Brij Mohan Makkar, senior diabetologist, president RSSDI told Business Insider India.

According to Dr Makkar, Inj Semaglutide 2.4 mg (Wegovvy), which is FDA-approved and is a GLP1 receptor agonist, is said to be the most popular anti-diabetic weight loss drug.

Inj Semaglutide drug acts on the brain to reduce appetite, slow gastric emptying, and reduce blood pressure to some extent, all of which have favourable effects on the metabolism. This drug suppresses appetite through its action on the brain, which gives a feeling of fullness.

“The drug has been studied in many clinical trials and found safe. The injection needs to be taken once a week and continued for the long term,” Dr Makkar said. He also believes that they do not cause major side effects. “The side effects, if any, are usually mild and subside shortly after treatment initiation,” he added.

Are they affordable?

In addition to weight loss, anti-diabetic drugs help control other metabolic diseases too. GLP1 receptor agonists and SGLT2 inhibitors also help protect against cardiovascular events. “These classes of drugs showed cardiovascular benefits in studies,” Dr Reddy added.

SGLT2 drugs also help in preventing heart failures and are now being used as the first treatment by cardiologists, even among non-diabetics, according to Dr Mohan.

Other drugs like Metformin (Biguanide family),Glucosidase inhibitors are found to be effective in losing weight. “Metformin remains the primary treatment in type 2 Diabetes. Its mechanism is at central hypothalamic and peripheral gastrointestinal effects glucosidase inhibitor by delaying carbohydrate absorption from gastrointestinal tract,” Dr Somashekara Reddy, consultant - diabetology & endocrinology, Fortis Hospitals, Bangalore told Business Insider India.

Another diabetic drug called Liraglutide is recommended by doctors for purely weight loss in many countries like the USA, even among non-diabetics, Dr Mohan added.

However, none of the SGLT2 inhibitors have received approval for weight loss so far, in India. Weight loss drugs themselves are few in India.

“Currently, only one approved weight loss drug is available in India, and it acts by blocking the absorption of fat. But the drawback is that it is a very mild drug and helps in losing only about 4% of the body weight. It acts differently than diabetes weight loss drugs,” Dr Makkar said.

Dr Mohan also highlighted that these two classes of drugs – GLP1 and SGLT2 agent drugs — are highly expensive and beyond the reach of a common man.

SEE ALSO: Indian markets open lower amid unrest in China over zero-Covid: Paytm, Adani Transmission, Hero MotoCorp in focus
Canada to strengthen visa processing capacity in Delhi and Chandigarh
Dharmaj Crop Guard IPO – 10 things to know before subscribing