Obese teens lose 15% of body weight in repurposed diabetes drug trial

Enlarge / Woman on a weight scale in kg

A Repurposed Type 2 Diabetes Drug Helped Obese Teenagers Lose Significant Amounts of Body Weight, Reduce Their Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease and Improve Their Weight-Related Quality of Life in a Clinical Trial of 68 weeks, according to researchers reported this week in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The drug is semaglutide (brand name Wegovy), which was first approved to treat type 2 diabetes in 2017, but has since also proven helpful for weight loss in obese or overweight adults. The drug works by mimicking a hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) that targets areas of the brain that regulate appetite and food intake, the Food and Drug Administration explained while approving its use for the weight loss in adults.

The new data suggests it could also significantly help teens struggling with obesity and overweight to improve their health and outlook as adults. One in five children and adolescents in the United States suffers from obesity, which can put children at risk for serious health problems, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, respiratory problems and joint problems, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Of course, semaglutide is not a magic cure for obesity, which is a complex and multifactorial chronic disease. The researchers note that during a seven-week follow-up after the 68-week treatment, some teens regained some weight, suggesting they may need to continue taking the drug to maintain their weight loss. weight. It’s also unclear how long a person can take the drug and still lose weight. Still, the drug could be a useful new tool in the fight against an incurable and progressive disease.


In the phase 3, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial reported this week, researchers asked teenagers aged 12 to 17 to take a weekly injection of 2.4 mg of semaglutide for 68 weeks.

Of the 201 adolescents enrolled in the trial, 133 obese adolescents and one overweight were treated with semaglutide, while 67 received a placebo. Both groups, along with their parents and guardians, also received advice on healthy eating and exercise.

The drug appeared to be generally safe, with some gastrointestinal side effects – nausea, vomiting and diarrhea – mostly seen in the early stages of treatment, which tended to subside over weeks.

After 68 weeks, people treated with semaglutide lost an average of about 15 percent of their original weight, or about 34 pounds. In the placebo group, the teens gained about 3% of their original weight, or about 5 pounds. The mean change in BMI (body mass index) was -16% in the treatment group and +0.6% in the placebo group.

In the treatment group, 73% lost at least 5% of their weight, 62% lost at least 10%, and 37% lost at least 20%. The treated adolescents also saw a reduction in clinically important cardiovascular risk factors, including lower waist circumference, total cholesterol and triglycerides, which were not seen in the placebo group. Finally, treated adolescents reported improvements in their quality of life scores on physical comfort.

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