Categories: US

Diabetes drug helped overweight minors shed up to a FIFTH of their body weight in new trial

A recycled diabetes drug administered once a week can reduce nearly a fifth of an obese child’s weight, a study finds.

Minors ages 12 to 17 who were given semaglutide — brand name Wegovy — lost an average of 14 percent of their body weight in 16 months.

This translated to 16 percent of their body mass index (BMI), a measure used to determine whether someone is at an unhealthy weight. One in four lost at least a fifth of their BMI.

By comparison, a control group who received counseling and advice about diet and exercise gained 2.4 percent more weight in the same period. Their BMI increased by 0.6 percent.

University of Minnesota researchers who led the trial said the drug was the “most effective anti-obesity drug for teens” to date.

Participants came to them “in tears” that they were so happy with the results, with one participant saying the drug made her “feel better about myself.”

Scientists hope their results will lead the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve the drug for use in children, opening other avenues for weight loss.

Wegovy — which stimulates areas of the brain that make people feel full after eating — is currently only approved for adults over the age of 18 in the US.

In children, one slimming injection – liraglutide – may be used, but it should be given once a day.

About one in five American teens is already considered obese, or 14.7 million people, increasing the risk of conditions later in life, including diabetes and heart disease.

The above shows changes in body mass index (BMI) among participants as a percentage. The dotted line, week 68, represents the end of the study. After that, participants in both groups started to regain the weight they had lost

Above you see the participants divided by the proportion of their body weight that they lost. Overall, those who received the drug were more likely to lose weight

About one in five 12- to 15-year-olds in the US are already classified as obese, a number that has increased after the Covid pandemic led many to spend long periods indoors

In the study – published in the New England Journal of Medicine — scientists recruited 201 obese youth who weighed about 107 kg.

They had an average body mass index (BMI) of 37, placing them firmly in the obesity category.

The participants were divided into two groups, with two-thirds taking the slimming shot and the rest receiving counseling.

Stars turn to $900-a-month off-label injection for weight loss

The rich and famous are turning to the diabetes drug Ozempic as a fast-acting weight loss solution.

Everyone from Hollywood stars to tech moguls is turning to the injectable drug to stay slim.

The drug, which uses the active ingredient semaglutide, is manufactured by Danish pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk and costs about $900 a pop.

Injected into the stomach, thigh, or arm, it quickly suppresses a person’s appetite — allowing them to lose weight quickly and easily.

The drug is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, making it used off-label as a weight loss supplement.

It costs about $950 for a month of treatment — and because it’s used off-label, getting the price covered by insurance goes a long way.

It has still become extremely popular with celebrity dietitians who report an increase in requests for it among their wealthy clients.

Demand for the drug has reached such heights that the type 2 diabetics who need it for treatment have faced shortages.

The FDA has added the drug, and the similar Wegovy also manufactured by Novo, to its list of drug shortages.

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After one year and four months, those in the drug group lost about 33 pounds (15 kg), or 14 percent of their body weight.

A third lost more than 20 percent.

In comparison, children who received counseling alone gained an average of 2.4 kg, which corresponds to 2.7 percent more body weight.

Only three percent achieved a loss of more than a fifth of their weight.

The shot was found to be safe to use, but the most likely side effects were nausea and vomiting.

The participants were also followed for three months after the end of the study.

Both groups regained weight during this time, but it was most pronounced in the drug group whose BMI increased by one percent.

dr. Aaron Kelly, a pediatric obesity expert from the University of Minnesota who co-authored the study, said the results were “exciting.”

He told NBC News“We’ve entered the stage where we see the kind of weight loss where teenagers come to us in tears.

“It’s the first time in their lives that they have their weight under control.”

The participants were recruited from locations in the US, Europe and Mexico, with the study running from October 2019 to March 2022.

Participant Emmalea Zummo, now 17 years old and from western Pennsylvania, said losing weight had been such a struggle that she was diagnosed with depression.

She weighed 113 kg (250 lbs) when recruited, but lost 31.8 kg, dropping to 170 lbs (77.1 kg) by the end of the study.

“I’ve tried diets. I’ve tried exercise. I do more sports than any other kid I know, and nothing would work,” she told NBC. “My body would just get used to the extra exercise, get used to the new diet and the weight would come back.”

But she was “very happy” with the results of the drug, adding, “I felt better about myself, something I’ve never felt before.”

Semaglutide was originally made for diabetic patients. It works by helping the pancreas release the right amount of insulin when blood sugar is high.

But scientists found it also had the side effect of reducing appetite, leading to weight loss. When people eat food, cells in the gut begin to release the hormone glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1).

This travels to the hypothalamus — an almond-shaped structure in the center of the brain — and activates this region to cause feelings of fullness or saeity.

The mechanism tells the body to stop eating, but of course it only takes a few minutes. Semaglutide, on the other hand, keeps it active for days.

Semaglutide was approved in the US in June last year for weight loss for people over 18, but has yet to get the green light for younger age groups.

Currently, the only approved injection for weight loss in children over 12 years of age is liraglutide, branded Saxenda.

But it has to be administered once a day, unlike Wegovy which requires a weekly injection.

Two medications that are taken as pills — Orlistat and Phentermine topiramate — are also age-approved, but they must be taken up to three times a day.

Childhood obesity has been on the rise in the US for years, but it gained momentum during the Covid pandemic when many were told to stay indoors.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 22 percent of American children are obese.

By way of comparison: in 2020 the level was around 19 percent.

Being obese at a young age puts children at greater risk for health problems, including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, joint problems, and breathing problems such as asthma and sleep apnea.


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