According to a recent study, a medicine called semaglutide, which is licenced for adults who are obese or overweight, can also help teenagers lose weight and have healthier hearts.
In an international phase 3a clinical study, adolescents with obesity who received once-weekly semaglutide compared to placebo experienced a 16.1% drop in BMI, whereas those who took placebo had a 0.6% increase. “Obesity rates are growing, not just in the United States, but all around the world,” said senior author Silva Arslanian, M.D., professor of paediatrics and clinical and translational research at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and the Richard L. Day Endowed Chair in Pediatrics.
“Typically, we provide lifestyle suggestions such as: eat more veggies; avoid fried foods; and avoid soda. However, because we live in an obesogenic environment, making such adjustments might be difficult. Obesity treatments that are both safe and effective are desperately needed.”
Semaglutide is an obesity medication that mimics the hormone glucagon-like peptide-1 to target parts of the brain that reduce hunger and improve eating control. This medication was authorised in 2021 for chronic weight control in persons who are obese or overweight.
Researchers included 201 adolescents aged 12 to 18 years with obesity or overweight across several sites to see if semaglutide is likewise beneficial in youths.
Throughout the experiment, participants received either once-weekly subcutaneous injections of semaglutide 2.4 mg or placebo, as well as concurrent lifestyle intervention (nutrition and physical activity coaching).
After 68 weeks, 72.5% of semaglutide individuals had lost at least 5% of their body weight, compared to only 17% of placebo participants.
“The results are extraordinary,” said Arslanian, who is also the director of Pitt’s Pediatric Clinical and Translational Research Center and the scientific director of the Center for Pediatric Research in Obesity and Metabolism. “The average drop in BMI amounts to removing roughly 40 pounds for a person who is 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighs 240 pounds.”
Obesity affects about one in every five children and adolescents globally. This chronic condition is associated with a lower life expectancy and an increased chance of developing major health issues such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, sleep apnea, and some malignancies. Obese teenagers are also more prone to suffer from despair, anxiety, low self-esteem, and other psychological difficulties.
When compared to the placebo group, semaglutide participants improved in cardiovascular risk markers such as waist circumference, a blood sugar metre known as HbA1c, total, low-density and very low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, and liver enzymes. However, there was no statistically significant difference between the two groups in blood pressure or high-density lipoprotein cholesterol.
When compared to their placebo counterparts, participants who took semaglutide had superior weight-related quality of life measures, owing mostly to an increase in physical comfort ratings. According to the researchers, this is the first obesity medicine to be related to significant quality-of-life gains in teenagers.