A diabetes drug approved for use as a weight-loss aid helped obese people lose more than a stone, a new study has revealed. And the medication has proved to be effective in the long-term with most patients keeping their weight off for the duration of the year-long study, researchers said. 

Liraglutide is a diabetes drug that is injected into the stomach before breakfast. In its weight-loss capacity the medication acts to suppress a person’s appetite. The new study, a randomised controlled trial, was conducted at 191 sites in 27 countries across the world, over 56 weeks.

Patients in the study were 18 and older and each had a body mass index of 30 or higher. BMI is calculated by weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters. The healthy range for most people is 19 to 25 BMI. Of the 3,731 volunteers, about two thirds were given the drug plus training to improve their lifestyle habits.

The remaining participants followed the same lifestyle intervention but were given a placebo. The trial was double-blind, meaning that neither patients or doctors knew if they were dealing with the real drug or the placebo. Those who received the drug were given a higher dose (three milligrams) than is prescribed for diabetes patients (1.8 milligrams), and were injected with the drug under the skin daily.

Researchers found those people in the placebo group lost an average of six pounds. But, those who were given the drug averaged around  three times more weight loss.A total of 63 per cent of those in the liraglutide group lost at least five percent of their body weight, compared to 27 percent in the placebo group.

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