Obese adults with prediabetes or newly-diagnosed type 2 diabetes could experience reduced visceral fat and improved beta cell function from taking liraglutide, research suggests.
Liraglutide (marketed as Victoza and Saxenda) is a GLP-1 analogue drug that helps to lower blood sugar levels by stimulating insulin secretio, inhibiting glucagon and reducing appetite.
Italian scientists say that liraglutide could be beneficial for obese individuals with a high risk of type 2 diabetes because it improves their glucose metabolism and lessens visceral fat.
Visceral fat is stored within the abdominal cavity around a number of important internal organs, and higher amounts can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and other health complications.
In the study, 62 metformin-treated adults with prediabetes or newly-diagnosed type 2 diabetes were randomised to receive either liraglutide or lifestyle counselling. The researchers then monitored their blood sugar levels, beta cell function, visceral fat and insulin sensitivity during a 15-month period.
Participants were encouraged to follow the Food Guide Pyramid and eat a low-calorie diet and increase their physical activity levels to at least 150 minutes a week.
The visceral fat reduction was significantly higher in the drug cohort after comparable weight loss, and the health of their beta cells was also improved compared to the counselling group. Both groups had similar reduction in HbA1c, subcutaneous fat tissue and weight loss.
“The reduction in [visceral adipose tissue] associated with liraglutide treatment was definitely significant but limited in magnitude. Its clinical significance, if any, remains to be fully established.” wrote the study authors from the Center of Aging Science and Translational Medicine in Chieti, Italy.
The findings have been published online in Diabetes Care.
Editor’s note: Rather than beginning a cycle of medication, people with prediabetes or new-onset type 2 diabetes can lose weight and improve their blood sugar levels by eating a healthy low-carb diet and getting regular exercise. Visit our award-winning Low Carb Program for more information.

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