While they can be effective, weight-loss medicines can also be expensive, even with prescription drug insurance coverage. This, obviously, limits their availability to some people.
Exenatide (brand name Byetta) is a fairly new injectable drug approved for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes that may cause weight loss in addition to improving blood glucose control. Byetta mimics the action of a hormone known as glucagon-like peptide-1. When blood glucose levels are high, Byetta signals the pancreas to release insulin. It also suppresses the release of glucagon, a hormone that signals the liver to release glucose. Byetta additionally slows the rate at which food moves through the stomach so that it is digested more slowly, and glucose from carbohydrate-containing foods is therefore released more slowly into the bloodstream.
Two studies reported in the professional journal Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism found that Byetta produced a sustainable weight loss over a 20-month period. Overweight and obese subjects with Type 2 diabetes lost an average of 10–12 pounds after 20 months of Byetta use. Mild to moderate nausea was the most common side effect reported, but it tended to decrease over time. If you are interested in using Byetta as part of your Type 2 diabetes control regimen, speak to your doctor.
Becoming a maintainer
Just as blood glucose control requires an individualized approach, so does losing weight and maintaining that weight loss. However, there are some tools that appear to help a broad spectrum of people, such as daily weighing; maintaining a low-calorie, low-fat diet; getting at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day; getting enough sleep; learning to reward yourself when goals are achieved; and getting support from others facing the same challenges. (See “Top 5 Tips for Maintaining Weight Loss” for more information on how to become a maintainer.) The key, then, is finding ways to tailor these tools to your unique situation.