Can Victoza Help You Lose Weight?

By Craig Sorkin, DNP, APN
Medically reviewed checkmarkMedically reviewed
November 14, 2022

Victoza was approved in 2010 by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat type 2 diabetes. It is in the class of medications called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists. In general, GLP-1 agonists have been shown to be effective in the treatment of type 2 diabetes and chronic weight management. Examples of other GLP-1 medications include dulaglutide (Trulicity) and semaglutide (Wegovy and Ozempic). 

Victoza is not approved for weight loss in individuals without type 2 diabetes. But people with type 2 diabetes who take the medication may experience weight loss as a side effect. It’s important to note that individuals who take Victoza are advised to complement their medication with a diet and exercise program recommended by their healthcare provider. 

What Is Victoza?

Victoza is a prescription GLP-1 agonist medication manufactured by Novo Nordisk that contains the active compound liraglutide. It is usually injected once per day, often into the stomach, upper arm, or thigh. Victoza is used to treat type 2 diabetes in adults and children 10 years and older. It is not approved as a weight-loss medication.

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Victoza dosage

Your healthcare provider will take your health history into account when prescribing your Victoza dosage. Common dosages include: 

  • 0.6 milligrams (mg) per day
  • 1.2 mg per day
  • 1.8 mg per day

Your provider may start you on a lower dosage of Victoza and gradually increase your dosage over time. Depending on how you react to the medication, your provider may decide to increase or decrease your dosage. 

How Does Victoza Work?

Like other GLP-1 agonists, Victoza works by mimicking the GLP-1 hormone naturally produced by the body. In turn, it helps the pancreas release the appropriate amount of insulin when blood sugar levels rise. It also works by reducing the glucagon effect, slowing the emptying of the stomach, reducing appetite, and decreasing the amount of sugar produced in the liver. Overall, Victoza helps stabilize blood sugar and insulin levels after eating in people with type 2 diabetes. 

How Effective Is Victoza for Weight Loss?

Research from clinical trials repeatedly demonstrates the effectiveness of GLP-1 agonists in inducing weight loss. Most people taking GLP-1 medications can expect to lose between 5-10% of their body weight.

People with diabetes

Research shows that when injected once daily, Victoza is associated with improved fasting and glycemic control in certain adults and children with type 2 diabetes. As the dose increases, both HbA1c levels and body weight decrease. Because Victoza works to delay stomach emptying and reduce appetite, it may also cause weight loss due to reduced hunger and energy intake.

Risks

For most people, Victoza is a safe treatment option. But some people should not take the medication. If you have a personal or family history of medullary thyroid cancer (a rare and genetic form of thyroid cancer) or if you have a rare condition called multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2), Victoza may cause you to develop tumors. Tell your provider about any known conditions as well as any prescription medications or supplements you’re currently taking before starting Victoza.

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Victoza Side Effects

Victoza can cause side effects. The most common side effects are mild and include:

In rare cases, serious side effects are also possible. If you experience any of the following, seek emergency treatment:

  • Ongoing pain that begins in the upper left or middle of the stomach but can spread to the back
  • New or worsening depression
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Unusual changes in mood or behavior
  • Nausea that leads to vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Clay-colored stools
  • Yellow eyes or skin
  • Pounding heart
  • Fainting or feeling dizzy
  • Swelling of the eyes, face, mouth, tongue, or throat
  • Rash
  • Itching
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing

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Frequently Asked Questions

How much weight can I lose on Victoza?
The amount of weight lost while on Victoza depends on several factors, including lifestyle modifications such as diet and exercise. Plus, according to one critical review, the amount of weight lost while on Victoza is dose dependent. People taking 1.2 milligrams (mg) of Victoza lost about 10.5 pounds, while people taking 1.8 mg of Victoza lost about 12 pounds.
How long does it take for Victoza to work for weight loss?
It can take several weeks for individuals taking Victoza to experience weight loss. Keep in mind that weight loss is not the primary goal of Victoza. This medication is intended to help people with type 2 diabetes manage their condition.
Can non diabetics take Victoza for weight loss?
No, Victoza is not FDA-approved for treatment in people without type 2 diabetes. However, Saxenda, another GLP-1 agonist containing the active ingredient liraglutide, is FDA-approved for weight loss. Saxenda is available in higher doses than Victoza and can be used for weight loss in people without type 2 diabetes. Talk to your healthcare provider about whether Saxenda or another GLP-1 agonist is right for you.
What does Victoza do to the body?
Victoza is a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist approved for treating type 2 diabetes. It helps to improve insulin production in the pancreas, slow the emptying of the stomach, reduce appetite, and decrease the amount of sugar produced in the liver.
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Craig Sorkin, DNP, APN

Craig Sorkin, DNP, APN is a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner with over 15 years experience. He received his Undergraduate and Graduate degrees from William Paterson University and his doctoral degree from Drexel University. He has spent his career working in the Emergency Room and Primary Care. The last 6 years of his career have been dedicated to the field of digital medicine. He has created departments geared towards this specialized practice as well as written blogs and a book about the topic.