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Victoza is an injectable medication prescribed for people with type 2 diabetes. It is one brand name of the generic medication liraglutide, which also may help with weight loss.
When you eat, an important hormone called insulin signals cells to use sugar for energy. In people with type 2 diabetes, their pancreas no longer releases enough insulin to properly use the sugar in their bloodstream (Goyal, 2020).
Liraglutide, the active ingredient in Victoza, works by prompting your body to release insulin every time blood sugar levels rise. The medication also slows down the process of the stomach emptying after you eat, which makes you feel full for longer. This is how the medication helps some people lose weight.
Liraglutide for weight loss: what does the science say?
Recent research has found liraglutide to be effective for weight loss and long-term weight management.
In one study, participants who took liraglutide experienced between 5-10% greater weight loss than the group who didn’t take it (Mehta, 2016).
Studies have also found higher doses of liraglutide are more effective than lower doses for losing weight (Davies, 2015).
How much weight will I lose on Victoza?
Taking Victoza doesn’t guarantee significant weight loss—but it is a possibility.
In the studies above, participants took liraglutide in addition to eating a balanced diet and following an exercise regimen. This means liraglutide could have played a role in weight loss, even though it wasn’t the sole factor.
In a review of five clinical trials, those using liraglutide (on top of a healthy diet and getting physical activity) consistently lost between eight and 13 pounds (Mehta, 2016).
What’s the difference between Saxenda and Victoza?
Victoza and Saxenda are the same medication. They’re both brand names for liraglutide, just like Kleenex is a brand name for tissues. So what’s the difference?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regularly approves certain brands or dosages for one indication, and other doses or brands for separate uses—even when they contain the same active ingredient. In this case, Victoza is FDA-approved for treating type 2 diabetes, while Saxenda is FDA-approved for helping with weight loss.
Both drugs are initially prescribed at dosages of 0.6 mg daily. The target dose for Victoza is 1.8 mg each day, and 3 mg for Saxenda. While these drugs have different names, they are functionally the same. Victoza can help you lose weight just like Saxenda, even if it was prescribed to you for diabetes.
Side effects of Victoza
The most commonly reported side effects of Victoza are digestive upset, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Some people experience constipation, indigestion, and abdominal pain (FDA, 2017).
In rare cases, Victoza can cause more serious side effects including (FDA, 2017):
- Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas)
- Gallbladder problems
- Kidney issues or kidney failure
- Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
- Intense allergic reactions that may include swelling of the face, mouth, and throat, shortness of breath, rash, or fainting
If you experience dizziness, loss of consciousness, severe abdominal pain, uncontrollable vomiting, or signs of an allergic reaction while on Victoza, stop taking it immediately and seek medical attention.
If you’ve been prescribed Victoza for type 2 diabetes, you may initially experience weight loss as a result of taking the medication. Speak with a healthcare professional to decide which is the best option for you.
If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
- Davies, M. J., Bergenstal, R., Bode, B., Kushner, R. F., Lewin, A., Skjøth, T. V., Andreasen, A. H., Jensen, C. B., DeFronzo, R. A., & NN8022-1922 Study Group (2015). Efficacy of Liraglutide for Weight Loss Among Patients With Type 2 Diabetes: The SCALE Diabetes Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA, 314(7), 687–699. doi: 10.1001/jama.2015.9676. Retrieved March 3, 2021, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26284720/
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- Goyal, R., Jialal, I. (2020). Diabetes Mellitus Type 2. StatPearls. Retrieved May 11, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK513253/
- Mehta, A. Marso, S. P., Neeland, I. J. (2017). Liraglutide for weight management: a critical review of the evidence. Obesity Science & Practice, 3(1): 3–14. doi: 10.1002/osp4.84. Retrieved March 4, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5358074/
- Pi-Sunyer, X., Astrup, A., Fujioka, K., Greenway, F., Halpern, A., Krempf, M., Lau, D. C., le Roux, C. W., Violante Ortiz, R., Jensen, C. B., Wilding, J. P., & SCALE Obesity and Prediabetes NN8022-1839 Study Group. (2015). A Randomized, Controlled Trial of 3.0 mg of Liraglutide in Weight Management. The New England Journal of Medicine, 373(1), 11–22. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1411892. Retrieved March 4, 2021, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26132939/
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Retrieved from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2017/022341s027lbl.pdf
- Whitten J. S. (2016). Liraglutide (Saxenda) for Weight Loss. American Family Physician, 94(2), 161–166. Retrieved March 2, 2021, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27419334/
Yael Cooperman is a physician and works as a Senior Manager, Medical Content & Education at Ro.