The following is excerpted from an online article posted by ScienceDaily.
A drug called semaglutide, which is approved for adults with obesity or overweight, also helps adolescents shed pounds and have healthier hearts, according to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
In an international phase 3a clinical trial, adolescents with obesity who received once-weekly semaglutide compared to placebo had a 16.1% decrease in their body mass index (BMI), while the BMI of those who took placebo rose by 0.6%.
Semaglutide is an obesity drug that mimics a hormone called glucagon-like peptide-1 to target areas of the brain that decrease appetite and improve control of eating. In 2021, this drug was approved for chronic weight management in adults with obesity or overweight.
To assess whether semaglutide is also effective in youths, researchers enrolled 201 adolescents aged between 12 and 18 years with obesity or overweight across multiple centers. Participants received either once-weekly subcutaneous injections of semaglutide 2.4 mg or placebo, and all received concurrent lifestyle intervention — counseling on healthy nutrition and physical activity — throughout the trial.
After 68 weeks, 72.5% of semaglutide participants had achieved at least 5% weight loss compared to just 17% of those on placebo.
“The results are amazing,” said Silva Arslanian, M.D., professor of pediatrics and clinical and translational science and who holds the Richard L. Day Endowed Chair in Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “For a person who is 5 foot, 5 inches tall and weighs 240 pounds, the average reduction in BMI equates to shedding about 40 pounds.”
The analysis showed that semaglutide participants had improvements in cardiovascular risk factors, including waist circumference, a blood sugar metric called HbA1c, total, low-density, and very low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides, and liver enzymes compared with the placebo group. However, there was no statistically significant difference in blood pressure or high-density lipoprotein cholesterol between the two groups.