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Losing Weight With Your Diabetes Medication


Nov 28, 2007

From the book 'Losing Weight With Your Diabetes Medication' by David Mendosa. Copyright © 2007. Reprinted by arrangement with Marlowe and Company (now part of Da Capo Press), a member of the Perseus Books Group. All rights reserved.

David Mendosa

I learned that I had type 2 diabetes in February 1994. A dozen years later, I knew I had to make a change. Technically speaking, I was "morbidly obese." I'm tall - 6 feet, 2½ inches - but I tipped the scales at 312 pounds and had a body mass index (BMI) of 40.

I was ashamed that I weighed so much. At the same time, I had almost given up hope that I could ever get down to a normal weight. In February 2006, I decided to try Byetta.

Byetta's Positive Side Effect

I was more interested in Byetta's positive side effect - weight loss - than in its effect on blood glucose control. But when I studied its prescribing information, I saw that people in the clinical trials lost an average of only about six pounds after thirty weeks. I wasn't impressed. Then I spoke to Dr. Joe Prendergast, an endocrinologist whom I have admired for years, and he told me that the average weight loss for his two hundred patients on Byetta was 35 pounds after nine months.

How could his patients lose so much more than those in the clinical trials? I think it was because the clinical trial participants were told not to do anything differently. But Dr. Joe encouraged his patients to eat less and exercise more, which is precisely what I wanted to do.

I Find a Doctor

My regular doctor, who had been nagging me for years to lose weight, didn't know about Byetta. When I asked him to prescribe it for me, he read the clinical trial results and decided I wouldn't lose much weight on it. So I determined to find a different doctor. My salvation came in the form of Jeffry N. Gerber, MD, a family doctor who specializes in encouraging his patients to lose weight. He wrote that he was eager to start some of his patients on Byetta and that I could be the first, if I wished.

I did wish, and my wish for lower weight and better health came true. Byetta didn't cause me to lose weight, but it made losing weight easier. How? By cutting my appetite so that I was seldom hungry any more. Byetta reduces appetite in two ways. It slows gastric emptying, and it also affects the central nervous system, triggering a feeling of satiety. On Byetta, I totally changed what and how much I ate.

Since I knew that about half of people who take Byetta experience nausea, I prepared for it by eating very little from the first. As a result, I've had almost no negative side effects. The only nausea I experienced was for about three hours after I took the first shot.

Once I started injecting Byetta, I began to lose weight immediately. I soon noticed that my trousers and shirts were too loose, and I enjoyed hearing friends tell me how much thinner I looked. While many things in life are a vicious circle, Byetta and energy are a virtuous circle: The more weight I lost and the more I exercised, the more energy I had. All this feedback gave me more motivation than ever to keep on losing weight. I also noticed that I needed less and less food to fill my stomach as it got smaller.

Since starting on Byetta less than two years ago, my weight has dropped from 312 to 181 pounds. From the start I told everyone who would listen that my goal by October 26, 2007, was to weigh less than when the U.S. Army honorably discharged me fifty years earlier. That meant weighing less than 195 pounds, which would give me a BMI in the normal range. I have already passed that goal!

With my lower weight, my blood glucose level has come way down. My A1C went from 6.8 percent to 4.6 percent, despite stopping the other diabetes drugs I was taking when I started Byetta. The arthritis that I had is totally gone. I also had elevated liver enzymes that showed I had a fatty liver, which can lead to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis and then liver failure. Now, my liver enzymes are normal.

My blood pressure was never all that high, but it too has come down, from 140 over 80 to about 100 over 60. That's well below the "normal" level of 120 over 80. My total cholesterol has dropped from 225 to 155, well within the normal range of under 200. My LDL cholesterol has dropped from 158 to 93, below the recommended level of under 100. My HDL cholesterol - the good stuff - has gone from 28 to 40, right at the recommended level. My triglycerides went from 193 to 109. That too is well within the normal range of up to 150.

Now that my weight and blood glucose levels are under control, I feel at least ten years younger. I have far more energy than I have had in years, and my mood is much more positive. My diabetes is under control. It may not be cured, but it certainly is in remission. Now, one problem that I don't have to carry is the invidious label "obese" or "overweight."

Editor's note: Although Byetta often has the side effect of weight loss, using Byetta is not a guarantee that you will lose weight. Many people do lose weight, but not everyone. Byetta is a medication recommended to help treat diabetes. Do not make any medication changes without talking with your healthcare team first.


Categories: A1c Test, Blood Glucose, Diabetes, Diabetes, Food, Losing weight, Type 2 Issues, Type 2 Medications, Weight Loss



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Comments

Posted by Anonymous on 29 November 2007

I too used Byetta but did not experience the weight loss benefit. But 4 months ago I started on a weight loss plan that entailed taking supplements and reducing my calories. I'm happy to say that so far I've lost 30 lbs, I reduced my use of Lantas by 50%, dropped one of my blood pressure medications and my A1C dropped from 7.1 to 6.9. I continue to use Byetta with this new regime and I'm looking forward to being the lowest I've ever been and minimizing my medication use by the end of 2008. Glad to hear of your success, makes me encouraged in general to persevere! Thanks!

Posted by Anonymous on 29 November 2007

This whole article just reads like an ad for Byetta. Can't really take it seriously.

Posted by Anonymous on 8 December 2007

About 1/3 of the users can take it very seriously (according to my docs). I started on Byetta in April, 2007 and am down from 245 lb to about 178. Insulin usage is down over 50%. Problem is I need to know how to turn it off when I get to my desired weight (another couple of pounds). Right now I feel like Mickey in the Sorcerer's Apprentice--I have no appetite and no interest in eating.

Posted by Anonymous on 10 December 2007

You may take it seriously even though it does sound too good to be true. Many people, although not all, have had this kind of success. I started on Byetta earlier this year for my Type II diabetes, and besides working well for its intended purpose, I have lost almost 50 previously intractable pounds since April. And, unlike Mr. Mendoza, I have not yet made any particular effort in that direction, just lost that constantly hungry feeling. No nausea for me. I am off two oral diabetes meds. For me, it is really working.

Posted by Anonymous on 5 April 2008

I am also on byetta for my diabetes type II since may 2007, my blood sugar was in the 500's, it is now under 100. I did lose 50 lbs in about 4 months on byetta, but that has died down now, i didnt have an appetite, now it seems my body has gotten use to it, because i am always hungry. I do experience the nausea almost every night. but I still eat. Any suggestions on how to get back to losing?

Posted by Anonymous on 1 May 2008

I too am on Byetta. Unfortunately I have not seen any weight loss. I have a question, once your sugar levels are lowered (as in the case of the writer of this article) do you stop taking Byetta?

Posted by Anonymous on 9 June 2008

How could this work on Type 1 diabetics?


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