Obesity is a chronic disease that’s pervasive in the United States—with a little over 42 percent of adults with obesity. And the obesity epidemic is deadly, as it can increase the risk of other life-threatening conditions like high blood pressure (hypertension), stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers, including breast and colon cancer.
Of course, weight loss is recommended when you have obesity, but losing weight isn’t about willpower; it’s about getting the support and tailored care you need. It’s important to treat obesity with a multi-faceted approach that includes lifestyle changes—like getting enough sleep and increased physical activity—and medication. That’s where meds like Victoza® come into play.
Victoza (liraglutide) is a U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved med for treating type 2 diabetes as well as for decreasing the risk of cardiac complications in adults with type II diabetes and in those who have heart disease. But it’s also known to cause weight loss. Because of this, health care providers prescribe it off-label to treat obesity.
Interestingly, Victoza's sister drug Saxenda® shares the same active ingredient, liraglutide, but at a higher dose. Saxenda was FDA-approved in 2014 for weight loss in adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater or a BMI of 27 or greater with at least one weight-related condition, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. What’s more, in 2020, the FDA approved it for chronic weight management in children aged 12 and older with obesity and who weigh more than 132 pounds.
So, you’re probably curious if Victoza weight loss may be a good option for you. We’re here to help answer all your questions about Victoza weight loss. Here’s what we know.
Victoza, a brand name for liraglutide, is a diabetes medication in the glucagon-like peptide 1 receptor agonist (GLP-1) drug class. It’s manufactured by the Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk. It joins the likes of other drugs in the GLP-1 family you’re likely familiar with, such as Ozempic® (semaglutide) and Trulicity® (dulaglutide).
GLP-1s are unique in that they mimic the GLP-1 incretin hormone our bodies already make, which is the hormone your small intestine releases after you eat. It encourages your pancreas to release insulin and your liver to lower glucose production. Liraglutide also helps your pancreas make more insulin, stops your liver from making too much sugar, and slows gastric emptying, which makes you feel fuller longer and can lead to weight loss.
Victoza also lowers the risk of negative cardiovascular events, like heart attack and stroke, in those with type 2 diabetes.
Yes, weight loss with Victoza is possible. A 2014 European Journal of Endocrinology study found that women with obesity and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)—a hormone disorder during reproductive years—who’d failed to lose significant weight on the diabetes drug metformin, lost weight when combining metformin with liraglutide. In the study, 22 percent of the participants who received both drugs lost at least five percent of their body weight after three months.
Along the same lines, the American Diabetes Association shared a study in ita publication, Diabetes Care, that detailed the findings of a 2020 placebo-controlled clinical trial. In the 56-week trial, about 400 patients with obesity or overweight and type 2 diabetes were given either a 3 mg dose of liraglutide or placebo in combination with intensive behavioral therapy (IBT)—including a low-calorie diet, increased exercise, and group counseling.
Amazingly, about 50 percent of participants achieved body weight loss equal to or greater than five percent with liraglutide and IBT vs only 24 percent of the placebo group who only did IBT.
With all the research currently available, liraglutide is well-tolerated in patients who don’t have diabetes but do have obesity.
In a 2019 meta-analysis in African Health Sciences, after a thorough review of five years-long studies, researchers concluded that liraglutide was “an effective and safe treatment for obese, non-diabetic individuals.” So, if you don't have diabetes and are wondering if Victoza for weight loss is right for you, it could be an option to help you lose weight. Talk to your healthcare provider about this potential option.
According to the manufacturer, Novo Nordisk, Victoza starts to lower blood sugar levels in as soon as 2 weeks, lowers A1C, and keeps it down. The A1C or HbA1c test gives you your average blood sugar levels over two to three months. People with type 2 diabetes routinely use this test to see how well their current meds perform and if the drugs maintain their blood sugar levels.
In a 2016 review of liraglutide in Clinical Pharmacokinetics, researchers noted that after just three weeks of liraglutide treatment, postprandial levels of triglyceride and apolipoprotein B48 had lowered. This is noteworthy because high levels of both blood fats have been linked as an indicator of negative cardiovascular events and heart disease in people with and without type 2 diabetes mellitus.
The same study also found meaningful Victoza weight loss results after 26 and 52 weeks of liraglutide treatment. It’s important to remember that weight loss with Victoza isn’t going to happen overnight. However, with healthy lifestyle changes, it can happen over time.
Victoza comes in a prefilled subcutaneous (under-the-skin) injectable pen. The Victoza pen comes with the smallest needle Novo Nordisk makes. You inject the medication into your upper arm, upper thigh, or abdomen once daily.
It's best to take Victoza for weight loss at the same time daily so you can get in the habit of doing it—it’ll become as easy to remember as brushing your teeth. And it’s also important to note that Novo Nordisk recommends switching up the injection site to avoid getting any lumps in the skin.
Remember, you can take Victoza for weight loss at any time of the day, with or without food; the important part is choosing the easiest time to remember.
The recommended dosing for Victoza for weight loss is to start at a 0.6 mg dose and continue it for at least one week (seven days) to help minimize any side effects. After the first week, you’ll increase to a 1.2 mg dose for at least one week. If you need additional glycemic control, you can increase to a 1.8 mg dose to maintain. Remember that if you tolerate Victoza well, your health care provider may increase the dose, so always follow your provider’s instructions.
Like with all GLP-1 receptor agonists, there are common side effects. Talk to your health care provider about any that you experience and tell them about any other meds or supplements you are on. Here are the most common side effects when taking Victoza for weight loss:
Victoza prescribing information also notes some serious side effects, although extremely rare. Here’s what they include:
Inflammation of your pancreas (pancreatitis)
Low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)
Kidney problems (kidney failure)
Serious allergic reactions.
Possible thyroid tumors, including thyroid cancer
Novo Nordisk warns that you shouldn’t take Victoza if “you or any of your family have ever had Medullary Thyroid Cancer (MTC) or if you have an endocrine system condition called multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2).”
The best time to take Victoza (liraglutide) is any time that works best for you. That means at a time of the day that you’ll most likely remember or that’s easiest. You should use the Victoza pen at the same time daily, so it’s important to choose a time that works for your schedule, whether first thing in the morning or right before bed. And you can take it with or without food. So, make Victoza part of your routine, and it’ll become as easy as brushing your teeth or setting your alarm clock.
Novo Nordisk also suggests that you switch up where you inject yourself so it’s not always in the same spot to reduce pain and swelling at the injection site.
You shouldn't take Victoza with other meds in the GLP-1 family because it can increase the risk of negative side effects and be potentially harmful. But, you can take Victoza with the diabetes drug metformin to help enhance weight-loss benefits.
Keep in mind Victoza weight loss works by delaying stomach emptying, which can cause some oral meds to not be absorbed as they should be in your system. So, be sure to inform your doctor about any new oral meds you’re prescribed to ensure they work effectively.
Also, ask your health care professional about possible drug interactions before you start Victoza for weight loss. Tell them about any prescription drugs you're taking and any over-the-counter supplements.
The answer is based on you and your health care professional. You’ll both decide what’s right for you, whether that's taking Victoza or trying another GLP-1 for weight loss. Before taking any prescription drugs for weight management, you’ll consult with your doctor to decide the best course of treatment.
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Access to GLP-1s prescriptions is now available as part of Found's weight-loss program. While GLP-1s are effective for weight loss, they are not clinically appropriate for everyone. Eligibility for a GLP-1 is based on a thorough evaluation of medical history, eating behavior, lab work, and insurance coverage. If a GLP-1 is not appropriate or affordable for you, Found providers can help determine if another effective medication is.
Found is among the largest medically-supported weight care clinics in the country, serving more than 200,000 members to date. To start your journey with Found, take our quiz.