We all know that weight excess is a risk factor for many chronic diseases, and is a major player in metabolic syndrome, which can lead to type 2 diabetes. Hence, it is not surprising that metformin, approved more than 25 years ago, and most widely used to manage blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes, may be useful in aiding weight loss.
Since the only approved indication for metformin is type 2 diabetes, most of our understanding of the effect of metformin on weight loss has been gained from research in these patients. However, besides the beneficial effects of metformin in the indicated group of patients, its potential for weight loss has been also shown in polycystic ovary syndrome and obese patients without diabetes.
Namely, long-term studies conducted within the Diabetes Prevention Program reported that individuals with elevated fasting glucose, but still not diabetic, who followed healthy habits without taking metformin initially lost weight, but gradually regained the lost weight over time, whereas those taking metformin on top of a healthy lifestyle lost less weight at the beginning of the study, but were able to sustain the weight loss over 10 years of follow-up. The average amount of weight loss after two or more years was between 1.5-3.1 kg with observed inter-individual differences.
Does this mean that metformin is the magic weight loss pill everybody has been waiting for?!
Even though metformin may help with weight loss, it is not a quick-fix solution, as the weight loss from metformin tends to occur gradually over one to two years. So the answer would be – resounding maybe. But if you are following a healthy diet and exercise while taking metformin and you are highly adherent to your treatment, your chances of losing weight in a long-term run are increasing. According to research, it is still not clear why metformin may cause weight loss. One theory is that it may prompt you to eat less by reducing your appetite and the other proposes that it changes the way your body uses and stores fat.
In conclusion, if you are patient and persistent enough, the old but gold metformin may be considered as a weight loss option for you!