A serious chronic disease that demands innovative new treatments

Obesity is characterised by excessive fat accumulation caused by an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended. It is associated with health impairment and is a major risk factor for chronic diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. By 2025, the cost of treating obesity-related complications is expected to reach 1.2 trillion US dollars globally, and while obesity is traditionally considered a 'first world problem', its prevalence in low- and middle-income countries is increasing dramatically1.

Despite these impacts on individuals and healthcare systems, obesity is rarely acknowledged as a serious chronic disease and treatment options remain limited. At Novo Nordisk, we are committed to changing this situation, and our scientists are working relentlessly to develop new medicines that target the unmet needs of people living with this complex disease.?


Do you want to know more about living with obesity?

Obesity is a chronic and progressive disease that requires long-term treatment

Obesity follows the first law of thermodynamics. If energy consumed as calories in food is not expended during physical activity, it becomes stored in the body as fat. During weight loss, changes in the hormones involved in homeostatic regulation trigger the body to conserve energy2,3. For people with obesity, this means that their body resists weight loss, and overcoming this sophisticated defence mechanism requires long-term treatment.? ??

Read more about the scientific challenge of obesity and our research in the area





obesity thermodynamics

obesity searching

Searching for novel therapeutics in the gut-brain axis

Starting in 2018, Novo Nordisk and New York biotech company Kallyope have entered a research collaboration to pursue and discover novel protein and peptide therapeutics for obesity and diabetes. Central to this research is Kallyope’s unique platform for interrogating the gut-brain axis.

“Coupling Novo Nordisk’s formidable capabilities with Kallyope’s unique, sophisticated platform makes for a very attractive strategic collaboration that complements our small molecule focus.”


Nancy Thornberry,?
CEO of Kallyope

Putting obesity at the centre of our innovation



The scientists at our research centres in Seattle (USA) and M?l?v (DK) are collaborating with academia, biotech companies and other pharmaceutical companies on an expanding pipeline of novel innovative treatments for people with obesity. We are currently seeking partners to collaborate on:

  • Novel modalities that affect appetite regulation and/or energy expenditure, and mechanisms of action that impact breakthrough weight loss (>20%)
  • Novel modalities that prevent loss of lean body mass during rapid weight loss
  • Novel modalities that specifically address obesity-related complications, such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and/or NASH pathways?


Explore partnering opportunities

Angela Astles

“I’ve spent 40 years trying to lose weight… and I’ve failed for 40 years.”

Angela Atlas is living with obesity


Our expertise in obesity-related complications


Obesity is associated with more than 200 complications4, a number of which are focus areas for Novo Nordisk, including diabetes, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis and cardiovascular diseases. A clinically relevant weight loss of 5–10% is associated with improvements in obesity-related complications5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12, and additional weight loss is likely to further improve or reduce the risk of specific complications13,14.?


obesity infograph

Over 20 % weight loss without surgery: our ambition for patients

“What we learned from the ACTION study is that patients and doctors often have unrealistic expectations about the weight loss that can be achieved with current treatment options. Disappointment from both sides is therefore inevitable when the patient achieves a 5–10% weight loss. If we can develop products that can meet their expectations, patients are more likely to adhere to their treatment. In the next few years, our dream is to develop a treatment that basically does what bariatric surgery does –?but in a simple once-weekly injection.”

Mads Krogsgaard Thomsen
Chief Scientific Officer
Novo Nordisk

Mads Krogsgaard



Guided by the people who know best

At Novo Nordisk, we consider people living with serious chronic diseases to be experts. That's why we invite them to become members of our Disease Experience Expert Panels (DEEPs). DEEP members are able to provide disease-specific insights and advice based on real-world experiences. This input guides us as we work to develop better treatments and meaningful support for people living with chronic diseases worldwide.

Explore DEEP


Follow our progress

Explore our scientists’ work on new obesity treatments.


Recent publications

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To contribute to the scientific community in our areas of expertise, we take pride in publishing our scientists’ new findings. Visit the library to review some of their recent work.


Explore our publications



A network that changes lives

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Novo Nordisk conducts clinical trials in over 50 countries worldwide, and we have a high retention rate among our trial participants.


Our clinical trials