In other words, America’s appetite for Ozempic is only growing. The active ingredient in this drug, semaglutide, is sold as an anti-obesity drug under the brand name Wegovy—and it has become so popular that the manufacturer, Novo Nordisk, recently. Limited shipping to the US and to stop advertising to prevent scarcity. His promise has attracted potential patients and taken off medical device competition making a very powerful drug.
One of the joys comes from Ozempic’s potential for young people: In December, the FDA approved Wegovy as a medical treatment. young people with obesitywhich affects 22 percent between the ages of 12 and 19 in the United States. The drug’s ability to promote weight loss in young adults has been described as “mental disorders.” In January, in its new guidelines for treating childhood obesity, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) he encouraged that doctors see the addition of weight loss drugs such as semaglutide as a treatment for some patients.
But even many doctors are obesity experts have received semaglutide as a treatment for adults, some worry that taking the drug at a young age—and at the most dangerous time in life—may have serious risks, especially since the long-term health and psychological effects of the drug are still unknown. However, some believe that no the use of this drug in young people is dangerous, because obesity puts young people at risk serious illness and premature death. Partly because of fear among doctors, semaglutide medication in teenagers is not going as well as in adults. At the moment, whether the drug will work as a treatment for young people is still unknown.
Semaglutide is not effective in young people; it could be more workers than adults. In large Novo Nordisk-money learning published in The New England Journal of Medicine, “The rate of weight reduction in adolescents was better than what was seen in large trials,” Aaron S. Kelly, assistant director of the Center for Pediatric Obesity Medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School, told me. In another funded Novo Nordisk learning published last week, the team led by Kelly showed that the drug, combined with counseling and exercise, almost half of the young people with obesity after receiving treatment for 68 weeks. Both for young people and adults, the weekly injection “does not melt body fat magically,” said Kelly; instead, it works by inducing feelings of satiety and calming hunger pangs.
Obesity in young people is different—in some ways it is more dangerous than in older people. Puberty is a time of growth and development, so the body fights weight loss efforts “with every means it has,” Tamara Hannon, a pediatrician at Indiana University School of Medicine, told me. Young people may also have less control than adults over what they eat or how much activity they get, as this is largely dictated by their families and schools, and by social pressure to conform to their peers’ eating habits. “Choosing well means doing something different than most other kids,” Hannon said. Around every corner, there is something that goes against weight loss.
Because obesity is a chronic disease, rapid growth can be devastating. In many cases, it can lead to diseases such as type 2 diabetes and fatty liver at a young age. Children with obesity are five times lucky more than their peers to have when they grow up; when obese adolescents grow up with obesity, they can “have a very serious disease,” Fatima Stanford, an obesity doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, told me. Weight-loss drugs give doctors a chance to intervene before the effects of obesity snowball, he said, hence the new AAP. childhood obesity guidelines encourage their use as part of the initial, informal, and multi-hour treatment of a person’s health and well-being. Used early, semaglutide or other drugs can restore the teenager’s life.
But semaglutide can also throw off a teenager’s way. Because treatment is considered a lifelong process—quitting often leads to rapid weight gain—teenagers who start using the drug will be drinking for years. “We have no way of knowing whether these drugs, used at a young age for a long period of time, may have unintended consequences,” David Ludwig, an oncologist at Boston Children’s Hospital, told me. While adults are exposed to many unknowns, the dangers of teenagers can be even more dangerous, because their bodies and brains are constantly changing. Of particular concern is the effect these drugs may have on puberty-related changes in the body. “We need to keep an eye on growth and menstrual history in girls,” Hannon said. Also, drugs can cause that bad results such as stomach issues and may have other effects, including significant muscle loss and rewiring of the brain’s reward circuit. Scientists are just beginning to understand these effects; at this time, just two Larger studies have been conducted on semaglutide in adolescents, and there is no longer a long follow-up period.
The effects of semaglutide treatment on mental health, an important component of obesity management, are not well understood. Young people “have more access to medication than adults,” Kathleen Miller, a clinical pharmacist at Children’s Minnesota Hospital, told me—and skipping the next dose can be physically and emotionally damaging. Another concern is that all the effects of taking semaglutide-reduced appetite, which leads to eating less-are the same as those that eat. When young people eat very restrictive diets, whether they include diet pills or not, “we know it can be psychologically harmful and encourage unhealthy eating habits,” Hannon said. Because their brains are so plastic during puberty, “there’s a risk of instilling those behaviors into adolescence,” Miller said.
With so many unknowns, are adolescents with obesity better off avoiding semaglutide? Until now, many pediatricians do not want to prescribe medicine. “The idea of using anti-obesity drugs was difficult even for adults a few years ago,” said Angela Fitch, associate professor at Harvard Medical School and president of the Obesity Medicine Association; Accepting his role in the care of children is very late. But drug resistance, he told me, is the biggest risk: Young people develop negative attitudes about their bodies when they don’t get help to lose weight. Explaining to a young person that obesity is not their problem, and correcting a serious environmental problem with medication or other treatments, helps them have a “good body image,” he said.
None of the experts I spoke to flat-out said that semaglutide should not be used to treat teenagers. Even those who were sensitive to the drug agreed that it may be suitable as a medicine in young people who really suffer from their obesity and do not really succeed in losing weight in any other way. That argument can be strengthened when simpler drugs—or those with fewer side effects—are allowed to be used by young people. This week, Novo Nordisk and Pfizer announced that the tablet version of the drug is winner of the first test.
Even without all the answers to how the drug will affect young people in the long term, Fitch predicted that “the adoption of semaglutide and other anti-obesity drugs in the pediatric population will be slow and gradual.” Ultimately, they can be seen as one of several weight loss tools to help set children up for a healthy lifestyle. Treating adolescent obesity shouldn’t be an “either-or” decision, Ludwig said: “It’s either.” He said that combining semaglutide with a low-carbohydrate diet, for example, could be Synergistic effects on adolescent weight loss.
For the foreseeable future, semaglutide is not as readily available to young adults as it is to older adults. Despite all the confusion surrounding Ozempic, experts and their patients are left with a difficult choice using various dangerous tests: what will happen if young people are treated with drugs, and what will happen if they do not. Either way, young people have a lot to gain—and a lot to lose.