Efficacy of subcutaneous semaglutide compared to placebo for weight loss in obese, non-diabetic adults: a systematic review & meta-analysis

Int J Clin Pharm. 2022 Aug;44(4):852-859. doi: 10.1007/s11096-022-01428-1. Epub 2022 Jun 17.


Background: Research on semaglutide's effect on weight loss has been largely focused on Type 2 Diabetics. No meta-analyses of semaglutide's efficacy in non-diabetic individuals have been conducted to date. Expanding the knowledge of semaglutide's outcome in non-diabetics may provide impactful changes at the clinical level.

Aim: This systematic review and meta-analysis quantified the efficacy of subcutaneous semaglutide in treating obesity in non-diabetic adult patients compared to placebo.

Method: Academic Search Premier, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL) complete, MEDLINE with Full Text, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, medrxiv.org, and clinicaltrials.gov were systematically investigated using a predetermined search strategy from inception to August 21, 2021. Covidence.org was used to screen, select, and extract data by two independent reviewers. Individual study bias was assessed using the Cochrane Risk of Bias 2 tool. Data were exported to RevMan v5.4, where meta-analysis was conducted using a DerSimonian and Laird random-effects model.

Results: The initial search identified 332 relevant articles and ultimately retained four randomized controlled trials encompassing 2,882 participants with a BMI ≥ 27 kg/m2. Patients treated with semaglutide experienced a clinically significant reduction in mean body weight - 11.62 kg (95% CI: -13.03 to -10.21; P < 0.00001).

Conclusion: This systematic review and meta-analysis validates the clinical efficacy of semaglutide for the treatment of obesity in the adult, non-diabetic population.

Keywords: Anti-Obesity Agents; Glucagon-like peptide 1; Obesity; Semaglutide; Systematic review; meta-analysis.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Glucagon-Like Peptides* / adverse effects
  • Glucagon-Like Peptides* / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Obesity / drug therapy
  • Weight Loss


  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • semaglutide
  • Glucagon-Like Peptides