A woman takes part in an aerobics class in Los Guidos de Desamparados July 23, 2015. More than 300 women participated in a physical health program organized by Andrea Abarca, which aims to combat obesity and sedentary behavior in poor women living in a slum. The National Nutrition Survey shows that the Costa Rican population has 62.4 percent of adult men who are obese , while Reuters

A trial by Novo Nordisk, manufacturer of diabetes drug liraglutide, found that high doses of the drug helps Type 2 diabetics lose weight. Three milligrammes of liraglutide taken every day over 56 weeks helped patients lose 6 percent of their body weight, or about 14 pounds.

The US Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, approved a lower dose of 1.8 mg a day for treatment of diabetes and sold under the brand name Victoza. The higher dose of 3 mg, sold under the brand name Saxenda, is approved for weight loss only, said Dr Joel Zoenszein, director of the Clinical Diabetes Center at the Montefiore Medical Center in New York, reports WebMD.

Previous studies, however, found Saxenda to lasting side effects on animals such as higher risks of developing thyroid tumours.

Zoenszein said he hopes that the FDA would change the arbitrary restrictions because clinicians “have a big problem trying to use higher doses of liraglutide in obese patients who have diabetes.” He is not involved in the trial.

The study has 846 diabetic patients with weight problems who were randomly assigned to take 1.8 or 3 mg of the drug or placebo daily. Those who took 1.8 mg lost an average of 11 pounds or 5 percent of their body weight, while those on placebo lost an average of 5 ponds or 2 percent of body weight.

Besides taking liraglutide or placebo, the patients were also placed on a diet that lowered their daily caloric intake by 500 calories and exercise of over 150 minutes of physical activity weekly, reports MedicalDaily.

However, 54 percent of those who took 3 mg daily, according to the study published on Aug 18 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, lost also 5 percent of their body weight. It is slightly higher than the 40 percent for those who took 1.8 mg and 21 percent for those who took placebo.

Zoenszein points out that insurance companies won’t cover the 3 mg dose for diabetes. The 3 mg could cost patients $800 to $1,000 a month. In pushing for FDA changing the arbitrary restrictions, Zoenszein says that he foresees no problem using the higher dose to control both weight and blood sugar. To outsmart the insurance firms, doctors tell insurance firms that the patient is obese, not diabetic, he discloses.

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