Recently, according to drug company Novo Nordisk, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Wegovy for children who are 12 and over. This weight loss drug has been shown to encourage weight loss in people struggling with obesity, and this approval paves the way for adolescents to use the drug as part of a weight loss regime as well.
Adolescents that have a BMI in the top 5% of their age group will become eligible for a once a week injection of the drug to go along with a meal plan for reduced calorie intake as well as an exercise plan.
Wegovy, also known as semaglutide, mimicks the hormone glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), which is naturally produced in the gut and is usually released in response to food in order to tell your body when you are satiated in order to help curb your appetite.
In June 2021, the drug was approved by the FDA for adults to use for people aged 18 and up with obesity. Now, it will be available for adolescents from age 12 and up as well.
The approval comes after a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine published detailed of a phase 3a trial that found that adolescents taking the drug experienced a 16.1% loss in BMI on average, as compared to 0.6% in the placebo group.
Aaron S. Kelly, PhD and Co-Director of the Center for Pediatric Obesity Medicine at the University of Minnesota said: “The prevalence of teen obesity in the US continues to rise, affecting teens and their families. Now, more than ever, we need new options to support teens. This FDA approval offers an additional tool to address this serious, chronic, progressive disease.”
However, many experts have made it clear that while the drug can be a helpful additional tool, it should not be looked at as a “magic bullet,” and neither should any weight loss drug.
Tom Sanders, Professor Emeritus of Nutrition and Dietetics at King’s College London shared: “While drugs like this may prove useful in the short term for obtaining rapid weight loss in severe obesity, they are not a magic bullet for preventing or treating less severe degrees of obesity and public health measures that encourage behavioral changes such as regular physical activity and moderating dietary energy intake are still needed. It is rather like the situation we are in with the vaccine, we still need to stick with public health measures and not become overdependent on medicines.”