Metformin may help patients maintain weight loss long-term

Released: Tuesday, April 23, 2019

BATON ROUGE, La. - A new study strongly suggests for the first time that metformin could be an effective drug for long-term, weight-loss maintenance.

Weight loss is a key part of preventing or delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes. More than 70 percent of U.S. adults are overweight or have obesity, key risk factors for type 2 diabetes.

The new research is a follow-up to the landmark Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) study, which began in 1996.  DPP compared the weight-loss and health benefits participants experienced with three randomly assigned treatments – an intensive lifestyle intervention, the prescription medication metformin or a placebo drug – over a three-year period.

In the new study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers looked at weight-loss changes over 15 years in the group of participants who lost at least 5 percent of their body weight during the first year of DPP.

“Although lifestyle therapy was initially superior for weight loss, metformin appeared to be more effective as years went by,” said Dr. Kishore Gadde.  Gadde is Professor and Fairfax Foster Bailey Endowed Chair in Heart Disease Prevention at LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center and chair of the Writing Group for "Long-term Weight Loss with Metformin or Lifestyle Intervention in the Diabetes Prevention Program Outcomes Study.”   Dr. John Apolzan, Assistant Professor – Research and Director of Pennington Biomedical’s Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism Laboratory, served as First Author of the article, which was published in April 2019. 

At Year 1, lifestyle therapy was superior for weight loss.  However, the lifestyle group regained substantial weight between Years 2 and 5, Dr. Gadde said.  During Years 6 to 15, the average weight losses were 6.2 percent in the metformin group and 3.7 percent in the lifestyle group.

The percentages of those with at least 5 percent weight loss were also higher in the metformin group than in the lifestyle group during Years 6-15.

The new study also found that being older and losing a greater amount of weight in the first year were the most consistent predictors of lasting weight loss, Dr. Gadde said.  Identifying good predictors of long-term weight loss could lead to improved weight management.

Dr. Gadde and the report’s other authors said future research should focus on whether metformin could be a useful intervention for long-term weight loss after initial weight loss with lifestyle interventions, anti-obesity drugs or devices, or bariatric surgery.

For more information on the Diabetes Prevention Program, email

The research was supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) of the National Institutes of Health under award number U01 DK048489. During the Diabetes Prevention Program and the Diabetes Prevention Program Outcomes Study, the NIDDK provided funding to the clinical centers and the Coordinating Center for the design and conduct of the study and the collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data (U01 DK048489). The Southwestern American Indian Centers were supported directly by the NIDDK, including its Intramural Research Program, and the Indian Health Service. The General Clinical Research Center Program, the National Center for Research Resources, and the Department of Veterans Affairs supported data collection at many of the clinical centers. Funding was also provided by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; the National Institute on Aging; the National Eye Institute; the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; the National Cancer Institute; the Office of Research on Women's Health; the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and the American Diabetes Association. Bristol-Myers Squibb and Parke-Davis provided additional funding and material support during the DPP. Lipha (Merck-Sante´) provided medication and LifeScan donated materials during the DPP and the DPPOS.  This research was also supported in part by the intramural research program of the NIDDK. LifeScan, Health o meter, Hoechst Marion Roussel, Merck-Medco Managed Care, Merck and Company, Nike Sports Marketing, SlimFast Foods, and Quaker Oats donated materials, equipment, or medicines for concomitant conditions. McKesson BioServices, Matthews Media Group, and the Henry M. Jackson Foundation provided support services under subcontract with the Coordinating Center.

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