The Long View at Dusk on Cayuga Lake

Taking a Longer View in Obesity

On Friday, when most people had gone for the Memorial Day weekend, came this headline from a press release:

Treatment with Saxenda® for Three Years
Reduced the Risk of Developing Type 2 Diabetes Compared with Placebo

Ordinarily, releasing information in this way would done to bury bad news that you had to get behind you. In this instance, though, that’s clearly not the case. Three-year outcome data for the pivotal SCALE trial of liraglutide in people with obesity shows an 80% reduction in the risk of developing obesity, significant (p<0.0001) for people receiving liraglutide.

To find any other data like this, you have to reach back more than a decade to the XENDOS study, published in 2004. That study, over a period of four years, found a reduction in diabetes risk of 37%. Impressed by these results, Caroline Apovian of Boston University commented:

Novo Nordisk is providing a new way to look at the treatment of obesity with drug therapy. Liraglutide reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes in people with prediabetes by 80 percent when added to lifestyle therapy. In the Diabetes Prevention Program, intensive lifestyle therapy provided only a 58 percent reduction.

On the surface this news is very encouraging about what might be the results of long-term treatment with liraglutide. Of course, it’s hard to tell much from such topline results. No doubt a full analysis will be peer reviewed and published, providing a much more complete accounting for what this means.

Good long-term outcomes in obesity are notoriously challenging to achieve. But taking a longer view is essential to finding the way to better outcomes. Seeing continued investment toward this end is good news indeed.

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” — Confucius

Click here for the press release from Novo Nordisk and here for the results of the XENDOS study.

The Long View at Dusk on Cayuga Lake, photograph © Richard M. Kyle

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2 Responses to “Taking a Longer View in Obesity”

  1. May 25, 2015 at 6:12 am, Joe Gitchell said:

    The picture is gorgeous!

    And an important set of words, too, though I will quibble with your modifying “significant” with “highly”–a pet peeve of mine (I think Saul’s fault, actually): statistical significance is dichotomous.

    Feedback is a gift, right? As a dear friend taught me….


    • May 25, 2015 at 8:07 am, Ted said:

      Thanks for the reminder, Joe. Duly corrected.