Sold under the brand name Wegovy, the drug helps teenagers curb their appetite and lower their BMI.
Semaglutide is a new weight loss drug first developed to treat type-2 diabetes and then adult obesity. Now, a study finds Wegovy helps teenagers lose weight too, according to The New England Journal of Medicine.
The study followed 201 teens and adolescents (aged 12-17) who got once-weekly shots of the new weight loss drug semaglutide, for 68 weeks, along with lifestyle counseling. A control group underwent counseling only. By the end of the study, the group taking semaglutide lost an average of 14.7% of their body weight. Meanwhile, the control group actually gained nearly 3% above their starting weight.
One in five U.S. teens is obese based on BMI, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Doctors are noting dire health consequences in younger and younger patients. “As obese kids become young adults, they start to develop conditions, like hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol,” Dr. Monica Bianco, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine told NBC News. She went on to say:
“We’re seeing people as young as 30 having heart attacks.”Dr. Monica Bianco
Dramatic Semaglutide Weight Loss For One Teen
17-year-old Emmalea Zummo struggled with a hormonal condition called PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome). Her weight steadily climbed to 250 pounds. “I tried diets,” Zummo said. “I tried exercise. I’m in more sports than any other kid I know, and nothing would work.”
Despite her active lifestyle, Zummo’s weight shot up to 250 pounds. During the trial, however, she dropped 70 pounds, landing on a more comfortable 170 pounds. “I felt better within my own skin, which is something I never felt before,” she said.
Semeglutide works by helping the pancreas secrete more insulin, which then controls blood sugar. This can reduce appetite.
The drug was originally prescribed for diabetics but when patients started losing weight too, doctors reported this to the drug maker Novo Nordisk. A 2021 clinical trial in adults confirmed the result was real.
This new weight loss drug semeglulite is not yet FDA-approved for teens but this new data is promising, especially for young people like Zummo with conditions that make diet and exercise alone ineffective.
Follow our blog for more updates on the approval process and when Wegovy will be available to you.