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Wait…you can take diabetes medication for weight loss?

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Taking diabetes medication for weight loss might seem like a disconnect. But many of the go-to prescriptions used to treat type 2 diabetes such as metformin, SGLT-2 inhibitors, or GLP-1 agonists—have also been shown to include weight loss as a side effect. You may recognize some common SGLT-2 inhibitors and GLP-1 medications as Wegovy, Ozempic, Trulicity, Saxenda, and

Empagliflozin. Healthcare professionals can prescribe drugs like metformin off-label to treat overweight and obesity. Off-label prescribing is a common practice when medications that are approved for a certain condition can also help with other ones. 

And there’s been a paradigm shift leading to new American Diabetes Association (ADA) guidelines that emphasize losing 15 percent of your body weight as a primary goal to treat type 2 diabetes, which often coexists with obesity. (The prevalence of type 2 diabetes is three to seven times higher in people with obesity compared to those without obesity.) 

But how exactly does a diabetes medication work for weight care, you ask?

How a diabetes medication, metformin, can work for weight loss 

Metformin differs from older-generation diabetes meds that worked by increasing insulin secretion (promoting hunger and weight gain.) It works like this: Metformin improves glucose uptake in muscles and fat tissue and acts as an insulin sensitizer. Meaning it improves insulin sensitivity and allows your cells to process glucose more efficiently by lowering both sugar absorption and glucose production. As a result, it can decrease appetite and reduce fat storage. How so? By upping the satiety hormone glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) secretion so you may feel fuller faster–helping with weight loss. 

A study published in Diabetes Care found that people taking metformin lost three to four percent of their total body weight compared to those given a placebo—who had little to no change in their weight after two years. And when the researchers followed up over the course of the next six years, they saw no safety issues in the metformin group, and their weight loss remained significantly greater compared to those taking the placebo. In fact, participants on metformin showed sustainable weight loss lasting at least ten years. 

How GLP-1s can work for weight loss 

GLP-1 medications, like Ozempic, are another type of diabetes drug that can help with weight loss. But they differ from metformin in that they control blood sugar levels by mimicking the role of your body’s natural GLP-1 hormones (instead of increasing them)—which stimulates insulin secretion and lowers blood sugar. And yes, like metformin, this medication can help you feel fuller faster, leading to reduced appetite, fewer cravings, and improved portion control. Most GLP-1s are injectables, and they’ve been approved by the FDA to treat type 2 diabetes and obesity and overweight. Now, there’s no magic pill for weight loss; however, a study of adults with overweight and obesity published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that participants who took once-weekly semaglutide (a GLP-1) and made lifestyle changes lost almost 15 percent of their body weight compared to three percent in the placebo group. And that also meets the ADA guideline for treating type 2 diabetes. 

Does Found prescribe diabetes medication for weight loss?

Yes, if it’s right for you. Our medical team will assess your unique needs and prescribe appropriate treatments, which may include metformin for weight loss. Found offers personalized treatment plans to help people with obesity achieve sustainable weight loss with the support of prescription weight care medication. 

GLP-1 Note: "Found is not currently prescribing GLP-1 medications for weight loss, but we are considering it as a part of our strategy to help members meet their weight-loss goals in the future. Stay tuned for updates on a potential GLP-1 rollout at Found. Until then, we can still help you meet your weight loss goals with our current online weight loss program."

About Found

Found is the largest medically-supported weight care clinic in the country, serving nearly 180,000 members to-date. Members receiving medication plus behavior change support from Found lost at least 13% more weight, and in some cases up to 229% more, compared to people receiving the same medication in clinical studies. To start your journey with Found, take our quiz

  • R. Kumar, personal communication, December 21, 2022
  • Obesity Action Coalition. (2021a, August 16). Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes.
  • Long-Term Safety, Tolerability, and Weight Loss Associated With Metformin in the Diabetes Prevention Program Outcomes Study. (2012). Diabetes Care, 35(4), 731–737.
  • Wilding, J. P., Batterham, R. L., Calanna, S., Davies, M., Van Gaal, L. F., Lingvay, I., McGowan, B. M., Rosenstock, J., Tran, M. T., Wadden, T. A., Wharton, S., Yokote, K., Zeuthen, N., & Kushner, R. F. (2021). Once-Weekly Semaglutide in Adults with Overweight or Obesity. New England Journal of Medicine, 384(11), 989–1002.

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