(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine reports that taking daily shots of liraglutide (marketed as Saxenda) can help overweight or obese patients lose weight — a lot of it. Patients taking the medication lost an average of more than 12 pounds, twice as much as those on a placebo, after 56 weeks.

Liraglutide was originally developed to treat Type 2 diabetes, but researchers found that in higher doses it could promote weight loss. Xavier Pi-Sunyer, the study's lead author and director of the obesity research at Columbia University, said it works by mimicking the effects of a hormone that makes you feel full.

[Scientists: These two commercial weight loss plans work best to keep pounds away]

The data, which was published Thursday, includes information on 3,731 patients and was included in the information submitted to the Food and Drug Administration, which approved the drug as the first injectable for weight loss in 2014.

The researchers wrote that the drug wasn't taken in isolation. Study participants received counseling and were asked to reduce their intake of food by a small amount and increase their exercise by 150 minutes each week. The most frequent adverse effects were mild or moderate nausea and diarrhea. The study was funded by Novo Nordisk, which makes the drug.

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