THURSDAY, May 6, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Combining exercise and liraglutide therapy improves healthy weight loss maintenance more than either strategy alone, according to a study published in the May 6 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Julie R. Lundgren, M.D., Ph.D., from the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research in Copenhagen, Denmark, and colleagues conducted a randomized trial involving adults with obesity who did not have diabetes. After an eight-week low-calorie diet, participants were randomly assigned to a moderate- to vigorous-intensity exercise program plus placebo (exercise group); treatment with liraglutide plus usual activity (liraglutide group); exercise program plus liraglutide therapy (combination group); or placebo plus usual activity (placebo group) for one year.

The researchers found that all the active-treatment strategies led to greater weight loss than placebo at one year (difference, −4.1, −6.8, and −9.5 kg in the exercise, liraglutide, and combination groups, respectively). Compared with exercise, but not liraglutide, the combination strategy led to significantly greater weight loss. Body fat percentage decreased by 3.9 percentage points with the combination strategy compared with −1.7 and −1.9 percentage points for the exercise and liraglutide groups, respectively. Improvements in glycated hemoglobin level, insulin sensitivity, and cardiorespiratory fitness were only seen with the combination strategy.

“The combined strategy reduced the body weight and body-fat percentage approximately twice as much as the single-treatment strategies did and was associated with additional health benefits,” the authors write.

The study was partially funded by Novo Nordisk, which manufactures liraglutide and employs several of the authors.

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