Half of Teens with Obesity Helped by Weight Loss Drug

  • 2 Min To Read
  • a year ago

A new study has shown that nearly half of teenagers given the weight loss drug semaglutide (Wegovy) managed to lose enough weight to drop below the clinical threshold for obesity. The study, called STEP TEENS, also revealed that 74% of people in the study shifted down by at least one body mass index (BMI) category after receiving a once-weekly injection of the drug compared to 19% of those on placebo. Semaglutide belongs to a class of drugs known as GLP-1s because they mimic the effects of glucagon-like peptide 1, a hormone made in the gut that helps people feel full. The drug was approved by the FDA in January for the treatment of obesity in those aged 12 and over.

The study also showed that there was about a 23-fold higher chance of a teen dropping below the obesity threshold when using semaglutide, compared to placebo. While the results are promising, Grace Malley, PhD, with the Child & Adolescent Obesity Service, Children's Health Ireland, in Dublin, emphasizes that teens' access to comprehensive health care is essential for the proper treatment of obesity. "Treatment requires a long-term, multidisciplinary chronic-care approach… long-term treatment including nutrition therapy, exercise … behavioral support, and sleep therapy needs to be available to families in combination with pharmacotherapy and surgical intervention where required."

All participants in the study received nutritional counseling and a goal of 60 minutes of moderate- to high-intensity physical activity per day. “Females tended to respond better to semaglutide, likewise younger adolescents, and middle body weights tended to respond better to the drug, and there was a similar pattern with obesity classes," said Aaron Kelly, MD, co-director of the Center for Pediatric Obesity Medicine at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. While the study shows that semaglutide can help adolescents lose weight, it is important to remember that obesity is a complex condition that requires a comprehensive treatment plan.


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