A recent study discovered that semaglutide, a medicine used to treat adults who are fat or overweight, also helps teenage weight reduction and heart health.
In a worldwide phase 3a clinical study, obese adolescents who received once-weekly semaglutide saw a 16.1% drop in body mass index (BMI) compared to placebo, while those who received the latter reported a 0.6% increase in BMI. “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 recommendations: eat more veggies; avoid fried foods; and avoid soda. But, regrettably, we live in an obesogenic environment, making those adjustments difficult. There is a great need for safe and effective drugs to treat obesity.”
Semaglutide is an anti-obesity medicine that works on brain areas that regulate appetite and fullness by mimicking the actions of the hormone glucagon-like peptide-1. In 2021, this medicine was approved for the treatment of chronic obesity in those who are obese or overweight.
Semaglutide was given to 201 obese or overweight teens between the ages of 12 and 18 in various centres to see if it was likewise useful to them.
Throughout the investigation, all individuals received concurrent lifestyle intervention, including advice on a balanced diet and frequent exercise. Participants were given either semaglutide 2.4 mg subcutaneous injections or a placebo once a week.
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 worldwide. This chronic condition is connected with a reduced life expectancy and an increased risk of serious health problems such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, sleep apnea, and various cancers. Obese teenagers are also more prone to develop depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and other psychological issues.
The study found improvements in the cardiovascular risk factors of waist circumference, HbA1c, total, low-density, and very low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, and liver enzymes when comparing the semaglutide group to the placebo group. However, there was no statistically significant difference in blood pressure or high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels between the two groups.
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.