The obesity It is a public health problem that has almost tripled between 1975 and 2016, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), and that increasingly affects more children and adolescents, since according to this organization in 2020 39 million children under five years of age were overweight or obese. The treatment of childhood obesity focuses on diet and physical exercise, but there are few pharmacological options. Now, Ozempic (semaglutida)a drug that is used in the treatment of diabetes and that for some time has also become fashionable to lose extra kilos has shown its efficacy to treat obesity in adolescents.
The results of the study have been published in Obesity and have shown that 45% of those who received a weekly injection of this drug lost weight to below the clinical definition of obesity. In addition, Ozempic –developed by Novo Nordisk– can reduce the damage suffered by the liver as a result of obesity. At the end of last year, the prestigious scientific journal The New England Journal of Medicine already published data on this trial, and the latest findings have been evaluated at the European Congress on Obesity.
This medication has been tested in a clinical trial –’Step Teens’– conducted at the Pediatric Obesity Medicine Center of the University of Minnesota with 201 adolescents from 12 to 18 years old who had an average weight of 107.5 kg, and presented from obesity to severe obesity. They were given randomly semaglutide with an injection subcutaneous once weekly 2.4 mg (n=134) or placebo (n=67) for 68 weeks. Both groups were given lifestyle advice during that time: healthy nutrition guidelines and a goal of 60 minutes of moderate-to-high-intensity physical activity per day.
“The drug could be transformative for children living with obesity,” but “it is not a quick fix and should be used in conjunction with lifestyle therapies and other anti-obesity measures.”
Aaron S. Kellyco-director of the University of Minnesota Center for Pediatric Obesity Medicine, who led the study, highlighted the impact of treatment on improvement of body mass index (BMI): Nearly three-quarters (74%) of participants who received the drug lost at least one weight category, compared with 19% of those who received placebo.
“This shows that it is much more expensive to treat obesity in these stages with nutritional and exercise intervention alone,” the study authors say. In addition, 45% of the participants dropped two places on the scale. Taken together, Ozempic treatment decreased the proportion of participants with the most severe degree of obesity from 37% to 14% after more than one year of treatment.
A promising advance in the treatment of childhood obesity
The authors of the paper speak of “historically unprecedented” results and “clinically significant improvements.” “These results underscore the high degree of clinical efficacy of semaglutide in adolescents with obesity. In a practical sense, we see that semaglutide reduced weight to a level below what is defined as clinical obesity in almost 50% of the adolescents in our trial, which is historically unprecedented with treatments other than bariatric surgery. ”, they conclude.
In statements at a press conference reported by the newspaper The Guardian Aaron Kelly has ensured that “the drug could be transformative for children living with obesity”, but also warns that “it is not a quick fix and should be used in conjunction with lifestyle therapies and other anti-obesity measures”. “A question I get asked a lot is: ‘Is this going to solve the obesity problem? Should we give this to everyone? It’s not going to solve the obesity problem, but it’s an important piece of the puzzle to help solve it, especially for those who are already obese.”
The authors conclude that “the findings support the early use of the drug in the treatment of obesity in adolescents and demonstrate their potential to improve and reduce BMI.” These scientists have also pointed out that, although it was not the subject of analysis, they found better results in the female group, but they indicate that “more data is needed to certify this”.