Bodyweight changes associated with antihyperglycaemic agents in type 2 diabetes mellitus

Drug Saf. 2007;30(12):1127-42. doi: 10.2165/00002018-200730120-00005.


The majority of patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus are overweight or obese at the time of diagnosis, and obesity is a recognised risk factor for type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease (CHD). Conversely, weight loss has been shown to improve glycaemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes, as well as to lower the risk of CHD. The traditional pharmacotherapies for type 2 diabetes can further increase weight and this may undermine the benefits of improved glycaemic control. Furthermore, patients' desire to avoid weight gain may jeopardise compliance with treatment, thereby limiting treatment success and indirectly increasing the risk of long-term complications. This review evaluates the influences of established and emerging therapies on bodyweight in type 2 diabetes. Improvement in glycaemic control with insulin secretagogues has been associated with weight gain. On the other hand, biguanides such as metformin have been consistently shown to have a beneficial effect on weight; metformin appears to modestly reduce weight when used as a monotherapy. alpha-Glucosidase inhibitors are considered weight neutral; in fact, the results of some studies show that they cause reductions in weight. Thiazolidinediones (TZDs) are typically associated with weight gain and increased risk of oedema, while the impact of some TZDs, such as pioglitazone, on lipid homeostasis could be beneficial. Insulin, the most effective therapy when oral agents are ineffective, has always been linked to significant weight gain. Newly developed insulin analogues can lower the risk of hypoglycaemia compared with human insulin, but most have no advantage in terms of weight gain. The basal analogue insulin detemir, however, has been demonstrated to cause weight gain to a lesser extent than human insulin. The emerging treatments, such as glucagon-like peptide-1 agonists and the amylin analogue, pramlintide, seem able to decrease weight in patients with type 2 diabetes, whereas dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitors seem to be weight neutral. In summary, while reduction of hyperglycaemia remains the foremost goal in the treatment of patients with type 2 diabetes, the avoidance of weight gain may be a clinically important secondary goal. This is already possible with careful selection of available therapies, while several emerging therapies promise to further extend the options available.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amyloid / therapeutic use
  • Benzamides / adverse effects
  • Benzamides / therapeutic use
  • Biguanides / therapeutic use
  • Body Weight / drug effects*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy*
  • Dipeptidyl-Peptidase IV Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 / agonists
  • Glycoside Hydrolase Inhibitors
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Insulin / adverse effects
  • Insulin / analogs & derivatives
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin / therapeutic use
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Islet Amyloid Polypeptide
  • Obesity / chemically induced*
  • Sulfonylurea Compounds / adverse effects
  • Sulfonylurea Compounds / therapeutic use
  • Thiazolidinediones / adverse effects
  • Thiazolidinediones / therapeutic use
  • Weight Gain


  • Amyloid
  • Benzamides
  • Biguanides
  • Dipeptidyl-Peptidase IV Inhibitors
  • Glycoside Hydrolase Inhibitors
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin
  • Islet Amyloid Polypeptide
  • Sulfonylurea Compounds
  • Thiazolidinediones
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide 1
  • meglitinide