The vast majority of patients with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese. Lifestyle intervention to lose weight is recommended in most diabetic patients to improve glycaemic control and reduce associated risk factors for microvascular and macrovascular complications. Even modest weight loss can significantly improve glucose homeostasis and lessen cardiometabolic risk factors, although achieving this level of weight reduction remains difficult for many patients. Complicating the matter, many agents used to target hyperglycaemia are associated with weight gain, making management of overweight or obese patients with type 2 diabetes quite challenging.
Incretin-based therapies with the new classes of glucagon-like peptide-1 mimetics (e.g. exenatide, liraglutide) and dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (DPP-4) inhibitors (e.g. sitagliptin, vildagliptin) may be of particular value in the treatment of overweight/obese type 2 diabetic patients because of their efficacy in improving glycaemic control and their favourable or neutral effects on body weight. In addition, DPP-4 inhibitors have a low risk for causing hypoglycaemia, undesirable gastrointestinal effects, or other prominent adverse effects that might limit their use. These classes of drugs hold promise for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, alone or in combination with other classes of antidiabetic agents.