Pennington Biomedical Collaborates on Study That Shows Medication Boosts Weight Loss

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Released: Thursday, July 02, 2015

Baton Rouge, LA - A new study featured in The New England Journal of Medicine reveals that adding the medication liraglutide to a regimen of diet and exercise boosts weight loss and improves metabolic control.

On average, people who received daily injections of 3 mg of liraglutide during a 56-week study lost 12 pounds more than people who did not take the drug. The analysis shows a significant drop in body mass for those who took the medication:

  • More than 60 percent of study participants who took liraglutide lost 5 percent of their body weight, compared with 27 percent in the placebo group who lost the same amount of weight.
  • More than a third of those who took liraglutide lost more than 10 percent of their body weight, compared with just over 10 percent in the placebo group who lost 10 percent of their body weight.
  • Nearly 15 percent of those who took liraglutide lost 15 percent of their body weight, compared with 3.5 percent in the placebo group who achieved a 15 percent body weight loss.

The study was funded by Novo Nordisk and conducted by a number of partner research organizations including LSU's Pennington Biomedical Research Center. More than 3,700 patients across 191 sites around the globe participated in this large-scale research study.

Their findings were published today in The New England Journal of Medicine - the most widely read, cited and influential general medical journal and website in the world and the oldest continuously published medical periodical.

"We've seen liraglutide's success in helping people with diabetes lose weight, but now we have another effective tool to help people without diabetes who struggle with their weight to lose weight and live healthier lives," said Dr. Frank Greenway, chief medical officer in Pennington Biomedical's clinical trials unit and a co-author on the published paper. "We know that a weight loss of 5 to 10 percent can greatly improve the health of people who are overweight and obese, and liraglutide could be an effective way to help patients achieve that weight loss."

More than 60 percent of participants in this study had pre-diabetes, a condition likely to evolve into diabetes if left untreated.

"Pennington Biomedical's mission is to put science to work to better treat and prevent chronic diseases such as obesity, pre-diabetes and diabetes that affect so many in our population," said Dr. William T. Cefalu, Pennington Biomedical's executive director. "This study demonstrates that when used with lifestyle changes, medication can help patients and physicians work together to decrease weight and reduce the chances of developing chronic illnesses."

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved 3.0 mg daily doses of liraglutide for weight loss in December 2014. The drug was previously approved only to help control diabetes. Pennington Biomedical researcher Dr. Corby Martin was part of the FDA advisory panel that recommended the drug's approval for supporting weight loss.

You can read the full paper entitled "A Randomized, Controlled Trial of 3.0 mg of Liraglutide in Weight Management" here:


The Pennington Biomedical Research Center is at the forefront of medical discovery as it relates to understanding the triggers of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and dementia. It is a campus of Louisiana State University and conducts basic, clinical and population research. The research enterprise at Pennington Biomedical includes approximately 80 faculty and more than 25 post-doctoral fellows who comprise a network of 44 laboratories supported by lab technicians, nurses, dietitians, and support personnel, and 13 highly specialized core service facilities. Pennington Biomedical's more than 500 employees perform research activities in state-of-the-art facilities on the 222-acre campus located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.