(HealthDay News) — For overweight and obese adults at high cardiovascular risk, liraglutide reduces visceral adipose tissue, according to a study published online in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

Ian J. Neeland, MD, from the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, and colleagues enrolled 185 community-dwelling adults with a body mass index ≥30 kg/m2 or ≥27 kg/m2 who had metabolic syndrome but not diabetes. Participants were randomly assigned to 40 weeks of once-daily subcutaneous liraglutide or placebo (92 and 93, respectively), in addition to a 500-kcal deficient diet and guideline-recommended physical activity counseling. Follow-up was completed by 73 and 55 patients in the liraglutide and placebo groups, respectively.

The researchers found that during a median 36.2 weeks, the mean change in visceral adipose tissue was –12.5 and –1.6% with liraglutide and placebo, respectively. Across subgroups of age, sex, race/ethnicity, body mass index, and baseline prediabetes, the effects seemed consistent. Gastrointestinal-related infections (47% with liraglutide and 13% with placebo) and upper respiratory tract infections (11 and 15% with liraglutide and placebo, respectively) were the most frequently reported adverse events.

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“To our knowledge, this is the first prospectively designed study in a population at high risk for cardiovascular disease, but without type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, to definitively show that liraglutide reduces visceral and ectopic fat measured by magnetic resonance imaging in adults with overweight or obesity,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical companies, including Novo Nordisk, which manufactures liraglutide and funded the study.

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