Hormone helps obese shed weight

2012-01-11 18:47

Paris - An appetite-curbing hormone found in the gut may help overweight and obese people shed weight, lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol levels, according to a study released on Wednesday.

Known as glucagon-like peptide-1, or GLP-1, the hormone is naturally secreted from the intestine when we eat.

Recently, doctors have begun to use GLP-1 to treat patients with type 2 diabetes due to the molecule's ability to regulate sugar levels in the blood.

But they also noticed that the hormone appeared to make patients less hungry, raising the question of whether it could work as a treatment for obesity.

A team of researchers led by Tina Vilsboll of the University of Copenhagen designed a study to find out.


Reviewing medical literature, they analysed the results of 25 clinical trials involving over 6 000 patients who had been given GLP-1.

Patients with and without diabetes who received a minimum dosage for at least 20 weeks showed greater weight loss than control groups, they reported in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

There was also improvement in blood pressure, cholesterol and glycaemic control, the process by which the body adjusts the impact of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels.

The findings provide "convincing evidence" that GLP-1 "results in clinically relevant beneficial effects on body weight" for obese patients, the researchers concluded.

"Additional beneficial effects on blood pressure and total cholesterol might also be achieved."

The treatment had side effects in some patients, including vomiting, nausea and diarrhoea. But this did not seems to effect the number of people dropping out of the trials, suggesting that, overall, GLP-1 was well tolerated, they said.

Vilsboll and colleagues recommended that the hormone be "considered" for obese patients with diabetes, and called for further trials to test its efficacy for obese people who are not diabetic.

In a commentary, also in the BMJ, Raj Padwal from the University of Alberta argued that - despite its weight-reducing powers - GLP-1 should not alter current medical practice.

"Modification of diet and lifestyle remain the cornerstone of the treatment of type 2 diabetes," he said.

The hormone's long-term safety is still unknown, he added.

  • jandreleroux - 2012-01-11 19:27

    How long before this is available and affordable in SA?

  • Marc - 2012-01-12 08:18

    The vast (sorry for the pun) of obese people eat too much of the wrong food (and drink) at the wrong times and take insufficient exercise, the wrong exercise or no exercise. Short version: barring the very occasional aberrant thyroid gland, they are are shiftless and self indulgent.

      Gail - 2012-01-12 13:50

      It is precisely because of a fattist attitude like yours that I am obese! Diabetes runs in our family and I had hormone treatment when pregnant with my 3rd child to prevent miscarriage which caused untold devastating side effects for years. Why does your attitude make a difference you may ask? Well because my husband had a similar attitude as did his mother who wouldn't have her own sister at her second marriage because she was obese! IMHO it is people like yourself who cause people to develop addictions to foods and also eating disorders. I was not going to be bullied by my late husband into what I should and shouldn't eat or how much of whatever exercise I needed. BULLYING drives people with less than perfect bodies to actually become secretive eaters addicted to foods. I worked a full time job so that HE could chop and change his at a whim and I went through three miscarriages and three successful pregnancies. I actually lost 25kg and was perfect when he once again uprooted me and our children despite my protests and plonked me in a place with no gym etc. He is dead today because he was too thin when we were involved in an accident. I fractured C1 but I believe to this day that my weight then was what saved me. Hormones mess with ones body and women suffer more with hormones than men. Men like yourself make me sick and obese! Be grateful for your good genes my friend - no amount of exercise will make me thinner or you more destructively critical.

      sabrael - 2012-01-12 14:08

      Gail, you can't be serious? Blaming someone else's attitude for your inability to control yourself? How ridiculous.

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