Introduction: The prevalence of obesity is increasing worldwide and associated conditions, particularly type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), also show increasing prevalence. Lifestyle intervention should be the first line of management for obesity but additional pharmacotherapy is often required and bariatric surgery is appropriate in more severe cases. Drugs acting as glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1RAs) developed for the management of T2DM reduce body weight and liraglutide is the first GLP-1RA to be approved for the treatment of obesity in patients with and without T2DM. Areas covered: In this review of relevant published material, the authors summarize the pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, clinical efficacy and safety of liraglutide for the treatment of obesity. Expert opinion: Liraglutide effectively reduces body weight and body fat through mechanisms involving reduced appetite and lowered energy intake, independent of its glucose-lowering effects. Like most of the other medications currently available for obesity, liraglutide has some common adverse effects, although generally not serious ones. Liraglutide has additional benefits in reducing cardiovascular events in patients with T2DM but the cost and the need for daily injections may limit its use in obesity. Newer GLP-1RAs, such as semaglutide, or other drugs in development for obesity may have advantages over liraglutide.
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