The loss of bone mass associated with major weight loss could be prevented through GLP-1 analogues, which are used to treat type 2 diabetes.
Researchers at the University of Copenhage, Hvidovre and Glostrup Hospital believe GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide 1), an intestinal hormone, could have a significant impact on future obesity treatment.
In type 2 diabetes, GLP-1 analogues, such as liraglutide and dulaglutide help reduce blood sugar levels by stimulating the release of insulin and inhibiting glucagon from being released.
The researchers examined 37 women who lost 12 kg from eating a low-calorie diet, dividing them into two groups. The first group were given liraglutide while the second group served as controls.
Dietary advice was given to the women over a one-year period to help them maintain their weight loss. They could replace up to two meals with a low-calorie powder if they gained weight, and after a year, both groups maintained their weight loss.
While rapid weight loss can lead to bone mass being lost and an increased risk of bone fractures, those in the liraglutide group had increased levels of bone formatio, with no lost bone mass. Conversely, lost bone mass was observed in the control group.
Physician and PhD student Eva Winning Jepse, University of Copenhagen explained: “Menopausal women have an increased risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures. If they try to lose weight and thus lose even more bone mass, they are at an even higher risk. The study shows that overweight women can now lose weight with liraglutide without increasing the risk of losing bone mass.”
In relation to type 2 diabetes, Professor Signe Soerensen Torekov added: “It appears that treatment with liraglutide makes it possible to lose weight and maintain the beneficial effect on the bones, while at the same time reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. This may have a significant bearing on our future approach to obesity treatment.”

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