The Effect of Glucagon-Like Peptide 1 Receptor Agonists on Weight Loss in Type 2 Diabetes: A Systematic Review and Mixed Treatment Comparison Meta-Analysis

PLoS One. 2015 Jun 29;10(6):e0126769. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0126769. eCollection 2015.


Aims: To determine the effects of glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists compared with placebo and other anti-diabetic agents on weight loss in overweight or obese patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Methods: Electronic searches were conducted for randomised controlled trials that compared a glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist therapy at a clinically relevant dose with a comparator treatment (other type 2 diabetes treatment or placebo) in adults with type 2 diabetes and a mean body mass index ≥ 25 kg/m2. Pair-wise meta-analyses and mixed treatment comparisons were conducted to examine the difference in weight change at six months between the glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists and each comparator.

Results: In the mixed treatment comparison (27 trials), the glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists were the most successful in terms of weight loss; exenatide 2 mg/week: -1.62 kg (95% CrI: -2.95 kg, -0.30 kg), exenatide 20 μg: -1.37 kg (95% CI: -222 kg, -0.52 kg), liraglutide 1.2 mg: -1.01 kg (95%CrI: -2.41 kg, 0.38 kg) and liraglutide 1.8 mg: -1.51 kg (95% CI: -2.67 kg, -0.37 kg) compared with placebo. There were no differences between the GLP-1 receptor agonists in terms of weight loss.

Conclusions: This review provides evidence that glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonist therapies are associated with weight loss in overweight or obese patients with type 2 diabetes with no difference in weight loss seen between the different types of GLP-1 receptor agonists assessed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / pathology
  • Exenatide
  • Female
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor / agonists*
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Liraglutide / administration & dosage
  • Male
  • Peptides / administration & dosage
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Venoms / administration & dosage
  • Weight Loss / drug effects*


  • GLP1R protein, human
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Peptides
  • Venoms
  • Liraglutide
  • Exenatide

Grant support

JP received funding from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) for a Masters Studentship in Medical Statistics while this work was conducted. The authors also wish to acknowledge support from the National Institute for Health Research Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care East Midlands (NIHR CLAHRC – EM), the Leicester Clinical Trials Unit and the NIHR Leicester-Loughborough Diet, Lifestyle and Physical Activity Biomedical Research Unit which is a partnership between University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, Loughborough University and the University of Leicester. This article presents independent research funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.