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The Best Diabetes Drug for Weight Loss

Key Takeaways

  • The diabetes drug Mounjaro may be the best diabetic medication for weight loss based on clinical trial results. It contains the active ingredient tirzepatide and has been approved for chronic weight management under the trade name Zepbound.

Diabetes drugs called GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1) receptor agonists help to control blood sugar levels by causing the pancreas to release more insulin. 

Some examples of GLP-1 agonist drugs include Ozempic (semaglutide), Victoza (liraglutide), and Byetta (exenatide). These medications also delay gastric emptying, increase feelings of fullness, and cause a decrease in appetite, leading to reduced food intake and weight loss. 

Please continue reading to learn more about some of the diabetes medications that are U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved for weight loss.

Which diabetic medication is best for weight loss?

The diabetes drug Mounjaro, which contains the active ingredient tirzepatide, has been approved for chronic weight management under the trade name Zepbound

It may be the best diabetic medication for weight loss based on clinical trial results. The maximum weight loss achieved with Zepbound is 26% from baseline when it is used at a dose of 15 mg once a week, along with lifestyle changes such as a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity. 

Some of the advantages of taking Zepbound include:

  • Unlike GLP-1 agonist agents, Zepbound is the first and only weight management of its kind that provides dual action by activating both glucagon-like-peptide-1 (GLP-1) and glucose-dependent insulinotropic peptide (GIP) receptors.

  • Average weight loss of 21% from baseline weight with Zepbound at higher doses (15 mg) after 72 weeks.

  • 91% of adults taking Zepbound 15 mg achieve a meaningful weight loss of 5% or more.

  • Once weekly dosing.

  • Fewer side effects due to the dual action on GLP-1 and GIP receptors.

Are all diabetes medications can be used for weight loss?

These weight loss medications are different from some diabetes medications that are also used off-label for weight loss. In other words, while all these medications contain active ingredients intended for diabetes treatment, some have gotten additional approval from the FDA for chronic weight management. 

For example, semaglutide is the active ingredient in Ozempic, a type-2 diabetes treatment approved in 2017. Wegovy, which also contains semaglutide, was approved by the FDA as a weight loss drug in 2021. 

While Ozempic and Wegovy contain the same active ingredient (semaglutide), and both of them are injectable medications, they have different dosages and drug strengths. 

On the other hand, doctors sometimes prescribe diabetes drugs for "off-label" use for weight loss. One example is metformin, an antidiabetic agent used to manage blood sugar levels in people with type-2 diabetes. 

Therefore, when this article refers to "diabetic medication used for weight loss," it discusses the use of diabetes medications approved for chronic weight management, such as in the case of Ozempic and Wegovy. 

Which diabetes medications are used to treat obesity?

As of January 2024, there are three diabetes medications that are approved for chronic weight management in adults.


Brand names: Victoza (for type 2 diabetes) and Saxenda (for weight loss).

FDA approval: Approved for diabetes in 2010 and weight loss in 2014.

Administration: Once daily injection.

Effectiveness: Weight loss of approximately 5-10% from baseline body weight after 56 weeks.


Brand names: Ozempic (for type 2 diabetes) and Wegovy (for weight loss).

FDA approval: Ozempic was approved for diabetes in 2017 and Wegovy was approved for weight loss in 2021.

Administration: Once weekly injection.

Effectiveness: Average weight loss of 15% from baseline body weight after 68 weeks.

Learn more about Wegovy’s uses and side effects.


Brand names: Mounjaro (for type 2 diabetes) and Zepbound (for weight loss).

FDA approval: Approved for diabetes in 2022 and weight loss in 2023.

Administration: Once weekly injection. 

Effectiveness: Average weight loss of 21% from baseline body weight after 88 weeks.

What are the side effects of the popular diabetes treatment Mounjaro?

Common side effects of tirzepatide (Mounjaro, Zepbound) include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, stomach pain, upset stomach, injection site reaction, tiredness, belching, hair loss, acid reflux, gas, abdominal distension, dizziness, and low blood pressure.

Injectable medications that are used to lower blood sugar and help people lose weight can also cause more serious side effects, including an increased risk of:

  • Medullary thyroid cancer and multiple endocrine neoplasia 2 (MEN 2). You should not take these drugs if you have a personal or family history of thyroid carcinoma.

  • Pancreatitis.

  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) if taken with oral diabetes medications or insulin.

  • Acute kidney injury and kidney disease.

  • Allergic reactions.

  • Gallbladder disease.

  • Diabetic retinopathy complications.

  • Gastrointestinal conditions.

What is the new diabetes drug that causes weight loss?

The newest FDA-approved diabetes medication that is approved for obesity treatment is tirzepatide. It is made by Eli Lilly and sold under the trade name Zepbound.

Another medication, retatrutide, is in phase III clinical trials for obesity. It is a triple hormone receptor agonist and acts on three hormones (GLP-1, GIP, and glucagon). Phase II clinical trials showed that retatrutide at a higher dose of 12 mg can result in about -24% weight loss from the starting weight after 48 weeks.

Which is better: Ozempic or Mounjaro?

Mounjaro and Ozempic work by mimicking a hormone called glucagon-like-peptide-1 (GLP-1). Mounjaro also mimics a second hormone called glucose-dependent insulinotropic peptide (GIP). Therefore, Mounjaro may be a more effective drug due to its dual action.

Note that neither Ozempic (semaglutide) nor Mounjaro (tirzepatide) is an FDA-approved weight loss drug. Some doctors and boutique weight loss clinics use Ozempic and Mounjaro off-label as anti-obesity medications. What happens when you stop taking Wegovy?

Drugs containing the same active ingredients, semaglutide (Wegovy) and tirzepatide (Zepbound), are FDA-approved to treat obesity. You may be a good candidate for one of these diabetes medications if you are overweight or obese. Learn about Ozempic for weight loss.

Who can take diabetes drugs for weight loss?

People who have been unable to lose weight with diet and exercise alone may be able to take certain drugs that are used to treat diabetes and approved for weight loss. To be eligible for a weight loss drug, you should have:

  • A body mass index (BMI) of 30 kg/m2 or higher.

  • A body mass index (BMI) of 27 kg/m2 or higher and at least one weight-related medical condition such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or high cholesterol levels.

Children as young as 6 years old can qualify for one of these weight loss medications if they have the initial body mass index (BMI) at 95th percentile or greater standardized for age and sex.

Wegovy (semaglutide) and Saxenda (liraglutide) are approved for use in children as young as 12 years old. Imcivree (setmelanotide) can be used in children as young as 6 years old.

Taking diabetes drugs approved for weight loss may help you get rid of excess weight and lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other serious medical conditions. Treatment with these medicines may also help you delay or avoid surgical procedures such as bariatric surgery for severe obesity.

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  1. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a611003.html

  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5358074/

  3. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a619057.html

  4. https://www.novomedlink.com/obesity/products/treatments/wegovy/efficacy-safety/clinical-trial-1-results.html

  5. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a622044.html

  6. https://investor.lilly.com/news-releases/news-release-details/lillys-zepboundtm-tirzepatide-achieved-additional-67-weight-loss

  7. https://www.zepbound.lilly.com/employer/understanding-zepbound

  8. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa2301972