26.05.2024

Fat TEENAGERS should be given miracle, new weight-loss jabs for the rest of their lives

Obese teenagers should be prescribed new jabs for the rest of their lives, scientists have said. Weekly injections of semaglutide were found to significantly reduce the weight of adolescents in a major trial of the new drug.

Experts said the findings support calls for children as young as 12 to be given the appetite-suppressing medicine, in a bid to drive down childhood obesity levels.

Researchers described the results of the treatment — which saw children lose an average of three stone — as ‘transformational for many teenagers.’

They suggested early intervention could help protect children from a lifetime of obesity and its associated health complications.

But they warned it was likely children would pile on the pounds once they stopped using the treatment, meaning they would potentially be taking it ‘for life.’

Almost half of 12 to 18-year-olds using the drug dropped below the clinical cut-off for obesity, according to the research involving 201 youngsters

Almost half of 12 to 18-year-olds using the drug dropped below the clinical cut-off for obesity, according to the research involving 201 youngsters

Almost half of 12 to 18-year-olds using the drug dropped below the clinical cut-off for obesity, according to the research involving 201 youngsters.

On average, those taking part weighed 17 stone and lost 3 stone during the 16-month trial.

Three-quarters (74 per cent) of those taking semaglutide had an improvement of one or more BMI categories compared to fewer than one in five (19 per cent) taking a placebo.

Overall, it was found to reduce the proportion of children with the most severe degree of obesity from 37 to 14 per cent.

Presenting his findings at the European Congress on Obesity in Dublin, Dr Aaron Kelly, from University of Minnesota Medical School, said semaglutide should be available on the NHS for all teenagers with obesity ‘as part of a comprehensive treatment approach’ including lifestyle advice.

It was found to reduce the proportion of children with the most severe degree of obesity from 37 to 14 per cent

It was found to reduce the proportion of children with the most severe degree of obesity from 37 to 14 per cent

He said: ‘Semaglutide is transformative for many children who are able to get access. It can be lifechanging.

‘Nothing brings me more pleasure than hearing the stories from adolescents who have been struggling their entire life to manage their weight of it. This gives them a tool to help take control of their weight, it’s transformational for many teenagers.’

The earlier children started taking the medication the better their outcome would be, he added, ideally tackling obesity before it could fully progress.

But he admitted those given the ‘lifechanging’ drug would likely need to stay on it for life, or risk the weight piling back on.

He added: ‘Obesity is a chronic disease. So chronic diseases require chronic treatments. You have to stay on that medication probably for the rest of your life.

‘If you take that treatment away, it’s like a rubber band, the weight goes right back to where it started.’

Going under the brand name of Wegovy, the weight loss drug has recently been given the go-ahead for use in adults on the NHS.

Regulators have yet to decide whether to grant its use — alongside a programme of diet and exercise — for obese teenagers.

A spokesperson for Novo Nordisk said: ‘Following clinical trials and a formal review by the MHRA, our medicines are granted a licence which will outline the approved indication and recommended dosage for UK adolescent patients.’

Commenting on the study findings, Professor Alex Miras, Professor of Endocrinology, Ulster University, said he was keen to see the drug approved by NICE but suggested delays in its availability could slow proceedings.

‘Children in this trial have lost a very significant amount of weight. What is interesting is that so many achieved normal BMI which is a remarkable achievement,’ he said.

‘We were expecting the medication to become available for adults in May but this has been postponed yet again. We don’t even know whether it will become available this year.

‘I think that NICE is unlikely to move forward, unless it has got more certainty that the medication will be available.’

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