Can You Take Weight Loss Medication if You Have Type 1 Diabetes?

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition that causes your pancreas to produce little or no insulin. Insulin is a hormone that allows glucose to enter cells for the purpose of energy production. However, having type 1 diabetes can make it difficult to maintain a healthy weight, and being overweight can, in turn, cause complications and worsen this condition. In this article, we will take an in-depth look at the answer to the following question: Can individuals with type 1 diabetes take weight loss medication?

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Understanding Type 1 Diabetes

As we discussed above, type 1 diabetes is an ongoing condition that causes your pancreas to produce little or no insulin, which is needed for energy production and regulation of the amount of glucose in the blood. Type 1 diabetes most commonly develops in children and adolescents, but it is possible to develop type 1 diabetes as an adult.

Causes and symptoms

Scientists are not yet sure what causes type 1 diabetes. It is thought that genetics and exposure to viruses and other environmental factors may cause this condition. 

doctor checking sugar levels to a child

Importance of managing blood sugar levels

Because your body does not produce enough insulin if you have type 1 diabetes, glucose cannot enter your cells.

This leads to a buildup of too much sugar in your bloodstream, which can cause serious complications such as:

However, you can avoid these complications by maintaining a healthy blood glucose level.

pregnant woman looking to her belly all conserned

Weight Loss Medication

This section will discuss types of weight loss medication, how weight loss medication works, and the potential side effects.

Types of weight loss medication

There are six FDA-approved weight loss medications:

  • Setmelanotide (IMCIVREE) is approved for adults and children ages six years and older with obesity due to three specific rare genetic conditions only
  • Orlistat (Xenical) is approved for adults and children ages 12 years and older
  • Liraglutide (Saxenda) is approved for adults and children ages 12 years and older
  • Phentermine-topiramate (Qsymia) is approved for adults only
  • Naltrexone-bupropion (Contrave) is approved for adults only
  • Semaglutide (Wegovy) is approved for adults only

How weight loss medication works

Each weight loss medication works differently.

Setmelanotide works by reducing your appetite and making you feel more full. It may also increase resting metabolism. Although it can help you lose weight, it is ineffective at treating genetic defects.

Orlistat works within your gut to reduce the amount of fat your body absorbs from the food you eat.

Liraglutide and semaglutide regulate appetite and food intake by mimicking the hormone glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1).

Phentermine-topiramate and naltrexone-bupropion may make you less hungry or feel full sooner.

Potential side effects

The side effects you may experience will depend on which weight loss medication you take.

Common side effects of setmelanotide include:

  • Depression
  • Disturbance in sexual arousal
  • Injection site reaction
  • Nausea
  • Risk of serious adverse reactions in neonates and infants with low birth weight, owing to benzyl alcohol preservative
  • Skin darkening
  • Suicidal ideation
ozempic pen

Common side effects of orlistat include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Leakage of oily stools
  • Stomach pain

Common side effects of liraglutide include:

Common side effects of phentermine-topiramate include:

Common side effects of semaglutide include:

  • Abdominal (stomach) pain
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Common side effects of naltrexone-bupropion include:

woman lying on the bed with the hand on her forehead, experiencing a headache

Can You Take Weight Loss Medication If You Have Type 1 Diabetes?

There are risks associated with weight loss medication and diabetes, such as the side effects listed above.

One important consideration before taking weight loss medication is that it can interact with other medications you take. You should only take weight loss medication prescribed by your doctor and only buy it from a pharmacy or online distributor that your doctor approves. You should not take weight loss medication if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

There are several alternatives to weight loss medications, including:


Tips for Managing Weight with Type 1 Diabetes

This section will discuss tips for managing weight with type 1 diabetes, including the importance of healthy eating habits, incorporating physical activity into your daily routine, and monitoring blood sugar levels.

Importance of healthy eating habits

You can make many dietary changes that will help you lose weight, including adhering to a low-carbohydrate and low-calorie diet, a low-fat and low-calorie diet, a vegetarian diet, or a Mediterranean diet. A Mediterranean diet is high in healthy fats and vegetables and low in red meat.

Incorporating physical activity into your daily routine

Some people with type 1 diabetes avoid or do minimal exercise because they fear it will cause severe hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). However, regular exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, and weight loss medications are more effective when they are combined with a healthy diet and consistent physical activity.

Monitoring blood sugar levels

If you have type 1 diabetes, it is imperative that you monitor your blood sugar levels regularly to avoid developing hypoglycemia or blood sugar spikes, as both are possible with this disease.


Type 1 diabetes is a condition that can lead to high and low blood sugar levels because it causes your pancreas to produce too little or no insulin, which provides energy to your cells. Being overweight and obese are common in patients with type 1 diabetes. You can take weight loss medications to help you get to and maintain a healthy weight. Weight loss medications work best when they are used in combination with diet and exercise plans.

In order to use weight loss medication safely, only take weight loss medication that is prescribed by your doctor and comes from a source your doctor trusts. Talk to your doctor to see if managing your weight with weight loss medication is right for you.

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