Intensive Behavioral Therapy for Obesity Combined with Liraglutide 3.0 mg: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2019 Jan;27(1):75-86. doi: 10.1002/oby.22359. Epub 2018 Nov 13.


Objective: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) covers intensive behavioral therapy (IBT) for obesity. The efficacy, however, of the specific approach has never been evaluated in a randomized trial, as described here. The 1-year trial also assessed whether the addition to IBT of liraglutide 3.0 mg would significantly increase weight loss and whether the provision of meal replacements would add further benefit.

Methods: A total of 150 adults with obesity were randomly assigned to: IBT (IBT-alone), providing 21 counseling visits; IBT combined with liraglutide (IBT-liraglutide); or IBT-liraglutide combined for 12 weeks with a 1,000- to 1,200-kcal/d meal-replacement diet (Multicomponent). All participants received weekly IBT visits in month 1, every-other-week visits in months 2 to 6, and monthly sessions thereafter.

Results: Ninety-one percent of participants completed 1 year, at which time mean (± SEM) losses for IBT-alone, IBT-liraglutide, and Muticomponent participants were 6.1 ± 1.3%, 11.5 ± 1.3%, and 11.8 ± 1.3% of baseline weight, respectively. Fully 44.0%, 70.0%, and 74.0% of these participants lost ≥ 5% of weight, respectively. The liraglutide-treated groups were superior to IBT-alone on both outcomes. Weight loss in all three groups was associated with clinically meaningful improvements in cardiometabolic risk factors.

Conclusions: The findings demonstrate the efficacy of IBT for obesity and the potential benefit of adding pharmacotherapy to this approach.

Trial registration: NCT02911818.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / pharmacology
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Liraglutide / pharmacology
  • Liraglutide / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / drug therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Liraglutide

Associated data