May 19, 2023 — Nearly half of adolescents receiving the weight-loss drug semaglutide (Wegovy) managed to lose enough weight to fall below the clinical threshold for obesity, a new study has found.
In comparison, only 12.1% of obese adolescents given a placebo in the 68-week trial fell below the threshold.
Semaglutide belongs to a class of drugs known as GLP-1 because they mimic the effects of glucagon-like peptide 1, a hormone made in the gut that helps people feel full.
The study, called STEP TEENS (Semaglutide Treatment Effect in People with Obesity), also shows that 74% of people in the study dropped at least one category in body mass index, or BMI, after receiving a weekly injection of the drug. compared to 19% of those on placebo.
“In practice, we find that semaglutide reduced weight below what is defined as clinical obesity in almost 50% of adolescents in our trial, which is historically unprecedented with treatments other than bariatric surgery,” said Aaron Kelly, MD. , co-director of the Center for Pediatric Obesity Medicine at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, who presented the latest data Thursday at the European Obesity Congress in Dublin, Ireland.
A teenager was about 23 times more likely to fall below the obesity threshold when using semaglutide, compared to placebo, he said.
This analysis, published in the review Obesity on Wednesday, follows the publication last fall of the main results of the study in the New England Journal of Medicinewho showed semaglutide helps teenagers lose weight.
The drug was FDA approved in January for the treatment of obesity in ages 12 and older.
Grace Malley, PhD, of the Child & Adolescent Obesity Service, Children’s Health Ireland, Dublin, said adolescents’ access to comprehensive healthcare is essential for the appropriate treatment of obesity.
“Treatment requires a long-term, multidisciplinary chronic care approach, and usually when treatment stops, the biological mechanisms that cause obesity begin again to lead to the accumulation of obesity. [fatty] fabric,” she said. This means that “long-term treatment including nutritional therapy, exercise…behavioral support and sleep therapy should be available to families in combination with pharmacotherapy and surgery if necessary”.
“The results of the STEP TEENS study represent a promising development for the treatment of adolescent obesity and associated complications related to liver function,” said Malley.
Exercise part of the plan
In this new analysis from the STEP TEENS trial, the authors examined the effect of semaglutide on moving 134 adolescents from one BMI category to another, including falling below the obesity threshold in the overweight or normal weight category; 66 teenagers received a placebo.
All participants also received nutritional counseling and a goal of 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity per day.
“After 68 weeks, not much has happened. [in placebo participants]however, 12.1% of placebo participants fell below the obesity threshold in the overweight or normal weight categories,” Kelly said.
But referring to people on semaglutide, “a total of 45% of patients on semaglutide fell below the clinical BMI threshold for obesity, so that 19.5% fell into the overweight category and 25, 4% reduced their BMI in the normal weight category,” he said. said.
Although not “statistically significant”, Kelly pointed out that “women tended to respond better to semaglutide, as did younger adolescents, and average body weights tended to respond better to the drug, and there was a pattern similar with obesity classes”.