The FDA recently approved the GLP-1 agonist semaglutide 2.4mg (Wegovy) for obesity in adolescents. When the FDA approved Wegovy in 2021 for use in adults with obesity, physicians and patients alike hailed the medication as “miraculous” and “a game-changer.”
This class of drug has gained a lot of media attention recently as the celebrity weight loss hack of choice, causing demand to outpace supply. But that’s a story for another day.
Childhood obesity can directly increase life-time cardiovascular disease risk, as underscored in this recent NEJM study that drives home the importance of early intervention and management. So the FDA’s recent Wegovy approval for obesity in teenagers is all the more timely.
The new approval comes after Wegovy basically crushed it in the STEP TEENS phase 3 trial, funded by its manufacturer Novo Nordisk, which was published in December in NEJM.
In the trial, researchers randomized 200 teenagers with obesity to receive either Wegovy (via a weekly 2.4 mg semaglutide injection) or placebo for 68 weeks plus lifestyle interventions. The Wegovy group experienced:
- Greater BMI reductions (16% vs. 0.6%)
- Dramatically better weight changes (-33.7 lbs vs. +5.3 lbs)
- But more adverse gastrointestinal events (62% vs. 42%) and
- Greater rates of cholelithiasis (4% vs. 0%)
Wegovy’s recent approval for adolescents is an exciting development with the potential to reduce long-term health risks associated with childhood obesity. While there is still much work to be done to address the underlying causes of obesity, the early efficacy of Wegovy seems to be a step in the right direction.