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Does Metformin Help Weight Loss?

Does metformin help weight loss? 

There is a suggestion that metformin, which is the main prescription for people with type 2 diabetes mellitus, may lead to modest weight loss.

What is metformin?

Metformin is a drug that helps lower the amount of glucose absorbed from the intestines, decreases the glucose in the liver, and enhances insulin production. Insulin is a hormone from the pancreas gland that regulates the amount of sugar in the blood. Controlled blood sugar prevents health issues like kidney damage, heart attacks, nerve problems, loss of limbs, blindness, and even sexual dysfunction. Metformin should be used with a proper diet and exercise program to maintain normal blood sugar. Metformin is used to treat hyperglycemia, and although it lowers blood glucose, it does not cause hypoglycemia since insulin secretion is unaltered.


Research has shown that many of those who are overweight and at risk of type 2 diabetes lose some weight while using Metformin compared with other diabetes drugs. This weight loss is likely associated with patients suffering side effect such as stomach pain, losing appetite, or diarrhea. Although these side effects don’t last long, patients who lost weight using this drug continued to lose pounds. The weight that is lost on this drug comes from the fat itself and not from the mixture of fat and muscle that results when dieting.

Metformin's effect on weight loss in an obese and overweight non-diabetic person

There was a study comparing treated patients with metformin and untreated patients as controls. Patients with a Body Mass Index greater than 27 kg/m (2) were given 2,500 mg per day, and weight changes were tracked for all patients over a six-month period. Before the treatment started, the HOMA (Homeostatic Model Assessment) index and Matsuda index were calculated after a 75-gram oral glucose tolerance test. HOMA is an indicator of insulin resistance that is calculated by fasting blood sugar and insulin levels, and the Matsuda index is the whole-body insulin sensitivity index from the simultaneous assessment of insulin and glucose levels on an oral glucose tolerance test. 

As a result, independent of age, sex, or BMI, the treated patients who had severe insulin resistance had a mean weight loss of somewhere between 5.8 kg and 7 kg, while untreated patients gained somewhere between 0.8 kg and 3.5 kg on average. It is conclusive that metformin is associated with significant weight reduction in patients with severe insulin resistance compared to insulin-sensitive patients, but inconclusive whether it is a direct cause or related to side effects.

Bottom Line

After all evaluation and all things considered, metformin is likely not a drug that can cause weight loss. It has no impact on someone who needs to lose so many pounds but could help improve health. Compared to people who exercise and have a strict diet, the long-term weight loss success rate isn’t much different from those who choose a lifestyle change. Therefore, metformin is to treat diabetes and should not be considered a weight-loss pill.


Source: Effectiveness of metformin on weight loss in non-diabetic individuals with obesity

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