The weight-loss drug helped half of the teens in the study fight obesity

May 19, 2023 — Almost half of teenagers taking semaglutide (Wegovy) managed to lose enough weight to fall below the clinical threshold for obesity, a new study finds.

In comparison, only 12.1% of obese adolescents who received a placebo fell below the threshold during the 68-week study.

Semaglutide belongs to a group of medicines known as GLP-1 because they mimic the action of glucagon-like peptide 1, a hormone produced in the gut that helps people feel full.

The STEP TEENS (Semaglutide Treatment Effect in People with Obesity) study also showed that 74% of people in the study lost at least one category in their body mass index, or BMI, after receiving a once-weekly injection of the drug. compared to 19% of those taking placebo.

“In practical terms, we see that semaglutide reduced body weight below the level defined as clinical obesity in nearly 50% of adolescents in our trial, which is historically unprecedented for 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, presented the latest data Thursday at the European Obesity Congress in Dublin, Ireland.

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A teenager taking semaglutide was about 23 times more likely to fall below the obesity threshold than a placebo, he said.

This analysis, published in the magazine Obesity on Wednesday, following the publication of the main results of the study last fall New England Journal of Medicinewhich showed semaglutide helps adolescents are losing weight.

It was the medicine FDA approved in January for the treatment of obesity in people over the age of 12.

Grace Malley, PhD, of the Child & Adolescent Obesity Service (Children’s Health Ireland) in Dublin, said access to comprehensive health care for teenagers is essential to successfully managing obesity.

“Treatment requires a long-term, multidisciplinary chronic care approach, and usually when treatment stops, the biological mechanisms that cause obesity start up again to promote the accumulation of obesity. [fatty] tissue, he said. This means “making long-term treatment available to families, including nutritional therapy, exercise…behavioral support and sleep therapy, combined with medication and surgery when needed.”

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“The results of the STEP TEENS study represent a promising development in the treatment of adolescent obesity and liver-related complications,” said Malley.

Practice part of the plan

In the latest analysis of 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 into 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 high-intensity physical activity per day.

“After 68 weeks, not much has happened [in placebo participants]however, 12.1% of those on placebo fell below the obesity threshold into the overweight or normal weight category,” Kelly said.

Referring to the patients taking semaglutide, however, “a total of 45% of the patients taking semaglutide fell below the clinical BMI value of obesity, so 19.5% of them fell into the overweight category and 25.4% fell into the normal weight category. t” he said.

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Although not “statistically significant,” Kelly pointed out, “females tended to respond better to semaglutide, similar to younger adolescents, and middle-weight subjects tended to respond better to the drug, and it was similar across obesity classes.”