Can Semaglutide Be the Answer to Obesity in Teens?

A new study found that it may help teenagers better reduce their BMI through the weight loss drug semaglutide.

The drug called semaglutide is a highly effective drug approved for use to combat obesity and help weight management in teens or obesity-related health conditions.

It works by stopping the appetite, thus reducing calories and leading to weight loss.

The obesity and type 2 diabetes drug semaglutide is just as effective in helping obese teens to lose weight as it is in adults who are obese or overweight, new research suggests.

The semaglutide is injected once a week and is available under the brands Ozempic and Wegovy.

weight loss drug semaglutide 

Published in the New England Journal of Medicine in the past few weeks, a study found that obese teens who took medication and practiced lifestyle interventions experienced a 16% reduction in body mass index (BMI) within 68 weeks.

The drug also led to improvements in cardiovascular health issues.

Semaglutide, a glucagon-like peptide 1 analog, is currently only approved for use in adults with obesity or obesity-related disorders. It works by suppressing appetite, thereby reducing calorie intake and leading to weight loss.

The FDA says new findings that a new weight-loss drug for obese teens has been approved highlight a new treatment option for obesity, at a time of rising obesity rates in children and adolescents.

Weight loss drug semaglutide side effects

The drug semaglutide was generally positioned as safe, with some gastrointestinal side effects nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea noted mainly in the early stages of treatment, which tended to decrease over the course of weeks.

The most common side effects of semaglutide in adolescents and adults are digestive problems, but these symptoms are mild and cause no problems.

Is semaglutide effective for weight loss?

"Used with lifestyle changes, 2.4 mg of subcutaneous semaglutide weekly resulted in a mean 10% to 15% weight loss (10 to 15 kg) over 68 weeks versus 2% to 3% (3 to 4 kg) with placebo (PC). Most (70% to 80%) lost 5% or more of their body weight. About 75% had gastrointestinal side effects, but few discontinued treatments. Weight was regained on medication discontinuation." (National Library of Medicine)

Does a drug call semaglutide work better than other weight-loss drugs?

In a clinical trial, researchers compared the efficacy of semaglutide with a placebo in 201 obese adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17.

134 participants received 2.4 milligrams of semaglutide subcutaneously once a week in obese youths who adhered to the lifestyle interventions for 68 weeks. 67 people received a placebo and adhered to the lifestyle interventions for 68 weeks.

After several days of treatment, the research team monitored the participant's health for an additional seven weeks.

Semaglutide helped obese teens lose weight, resulting in a 16.1% reduction in BMI compared to baseline BMI. Those who tried the placebo had a mild increase in MBI.

Additionally, 73% of those who took semaglutide lost at least 5% of their body weight, compared to 18% of those who took the placebo.

The analysis also showed improvements in several cardiovascular risk factors who followed treatment, including lipids, cholesterol, triglycerides, waist circumference, and levels of glycated hemoglobin, a measure of blood sugar called HbA1c.

Those who used semaglutide in obese teens and experienced weight loss also reported a better quality of life.

According to the study researchers, the benefits of semaglutide are highly effective in fighting obesity, far better than other weight-loss drugs approved for adolescents with obesity.

However, no other studies have compared semaglutide with other weight-loss drugs in adolescents.

How preventing childhood obesity currently 

Research has generally found that it is difficult to achieve long-term weight loss results with lifestyle interventions once obesity has occurred.

However, current guidelines for young people with obesity recommend multiple lifestyle interventions.

If young people are unable to achieve their weight loss goals through lifestyle interventions, pharmaceutical drugs are available, but options are limited.

Child obesity is a huge problem

Of course, there are still many other aspects related to semaglutide's efficacy for obesity that is still unknown.

It is a complex, multifactorial chronic disease that may require lifelong treatment to maintain weight loss.

The drug should be supplemented with a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity.

However, the results seem to open a new effective path in the fight against the silent epidemic that continues to show alarming numbers year after year.

Obesity affects 1 in 5 children and adolescents worldwide. This chronic disease is associated with a reduced life expectancy and an increased risk of serious conditions such as those mentioned.

The problem acquires greater proportions when it is known that children who are overweight usually continue to gain weight as they become adults.

Do anti-obesity drugs really work? 

In a clinical trial at Yale University, a participant in Dr. Jastreboff’s study tried various diets and exercise plans to lose the extra pounds she had carried on for decades, but nothing worked.

She gained 25 pounds (11.34 kg) from working at home during the pandemic, though she has worked hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle, "but the rest of that, I've put up with my whole life,” she says.

Dr. Jastreboff was the lead researcher on the trial, which included weekly injections to test tirzepatide, which combines GLP-1 with another hormone called a glucose-dependent insulinotropic peptide (GIP).

These drugs approved for use such as semaglutide and tirzepatide carried out by Yale University in its study of the program of metabolic health and weight loss, indicating that the approved drug performance for weight loss by 15% to 20%.

The success story of semaglutide in adolescents 

Emmalea Zummo, a 17-year-old, struggled with her weight and was one of the teens enrolled in the study who used semaglutide.

At first, she weighed 250 pounds (113.4 kg), which is the weight gain associated with PCOS, and during the experiment, she lost about 70 pounds (31.75 kilograms) over the course of the experiment.

Zummo felt hopeless. “I was diagnosed with depression due to my weight,” she said.

When the opportunity came to participate in the study, Zummo jumped at it. “Even at the first appointment when they were explaining what the medication was, it was already like I felt lighter mentally,” she said.

A new study shows that the obesity drug used by adolescents can also help adolescents, called the semaglutide, which works by controlling insulin and reducing appetite.

The new drug is expected to receive FDA approval for ages 12 and older next year and will be marketed under the name wagovi.


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