Introduction: Obesity is a worldwide problem predisposing to type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), hypertension, cardiovascular disease, cancer and other comorbidities. Lifestyle modification is the first line intervention but adjunctive pharmacotherapy is often required. The GLP-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1RAs) were developed primarily for T2DM and they also reduce body weight. Liraglutide was approved for the treatment of obesity and other GLP-1RAs are likely to be suitable for this indication. Areas covered: This review describes the GLP-1RAs that have been approved for the treatment of T2DM as potential candidates for the treatment of obesity and the new agents currently under development which may have advantages in patient adherence. Expert opinion: The GLP-1RAs offer a welcome addition to obesity pharmacotherapy. They appear to be free of serious adverse effects although uncertainty remains about possible risks of pancreatitis and neoplasms. However, they have frequent gastrointestinal side effects, particularly nausea, which limits their tolerability. Cardiovascular outcome studies in T2DM support their use and this is likely to increase in both T2DM and obesity. Other GLP-1RAs which can be given by subcutaneous injection once weekly or less frequently or by oral administration would have advantages especially if nausea is less frequent than with liraglutide.
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