Metformin and body weight

Int J Obes (Lond). 2008 Jan;32(1):61-72. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijo.0803695. Epub 2007 Jul 24.


Most patients with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese, overweight or obesity increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and obesity per se is strongly associated with multiple cardiometabolic risk factors. However, many antidiabetic treatments increase body weight. The oral antidiabetic agent, metformin, has been evaluated in hundreds of clinical studies in diverse patient populations during approximately five decades of clinical use. This review summarizes the effects of metformin on body weight, with special reference to studies of longer duration (>/=6 months) as both diabetes and obesity are long-term conditions. Approximately half of studies in drug-naive type 2 diabetic patients demonstrated significant weight loss with metformin compared with baseline or comparator drugs, although pooled analyses have suggested no significant effect versus placebo. Similarly, metformin has been shown to induce weight loss in obese nondiabetic populations, although studies of long duration in this population are scarce. Metformin does appear to mitigate the adverse effects of insulin on body weight. The weight-neutral or weight-sparing effects of metformin constitute a therapeutic advantage in diabetes management where other first-line oral antidiabetic treatments often promote clinically significant weight gain.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Weight / drug effects*
  • Child
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Metformin / adverse effects*
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / chemically induced*


  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Metformin