American children are hooked on weight-loss drugs: their consumption among teenagers has increased by 600% in three years - ForumDaily
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American children are hooked on weight-loss drugs: their consumption among teenagers has increased by 600% in three years

Researchers have found that the use of GLP-1 weight loss drugs, including Wegovy and Ozempic, increased in the United States by almost 600% from 2020 to 2023, reports Dailymail.

Overweight girl using scales near measuring tape on wooden floor, closeup

Photo: iStock.com/Liudmila Chernetska

New data shows that in the first year the drugs were approved in the United States weight loss Ozempic and Wegovy, they were taken by more than 60 children and young people aged 000 to 12 years.

Ozempic and Wegovy are made by the same company. Both drugs contain the same active ingredient semaglutide. However, Wegovy contains higher doses and is intended for weight loss. Ozempic contains lower doses of semaglutide and is designed specifically for patients with type 2 diabetes.

Wegovy's approval gives pediatricians another tool to help children who suffer obese and are unable to maintain a healthy weight.

"I've lost hope"

At 17, Israel McKenzie was so obese that he stopped going to high school and was embarrassed to talk to people at his restaurant job.

“I was depressed,” Mackenzie admitted.

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He weighed 160 kg and was 185 cm tall, despite repeated attempts to diet and exercise.

“I’ve lost hope,” the guy said.

But last year, weight loss drug Wegovy helped him lose 50kg in nine months.

He was one of thousands of teenagers and young adults who used diabetes and obesity drugs known as GLP-1 receptor agonists.

"It changed everything"

According to Mackenzie, he began gaining weight five years ago, during puberty.
“I started turning to food to solve all my problems,” he explained.

As the attending physician said, excess weight aggravated his asthma and provoked the development of diabetes. The guy tried to follow the doctor's advice by giving up sugary carbonated drinks and snacks. He began to exercise more, but these efforts did not help.


“My doctor told me there was nothing he could do,” Mackenzie noted. “He said it was my fault.”

In early 2023, the young man contacted Dr. Joanie Jack, a childhood obesity specialist at Erlanger Children's Hospital in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He regularly prescribes GLP-1 medications for children.

“I told the guy that I saw 10 other people just like him today, and we have a lot of tools as well as treatment options,” Jack assured.

They usually involve intensive behavioral and nutritional interventions, combined with medication if necessary.

In Mackenzie's case, Jack prescribed the weight-loss drug Wegovy, which was approved in the United States in late 2022 for use in children over 12 years of age.

New data shows that in 2023, more than 6000 teenagers in this age group were prescribed Wegovy.

More than 7600 patients were prescribed Ozempic, which is approved to treat diabetes in adults but may be used off-label in adolescents. Others took older GLP-1 drugs such as Saxenda and Trulicity.

McKenzie said he had no noticeable side effects from the medication. But some young people report nausea, vomiting or constipation, including symptoms so severe that they stop taking their medications.

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Today, McKenzie says his asthma has begun to improve and he is looking forward to socializing with colleagues and friends.

“I have a lot of self-confidence now, much more than before,” he assured. “It changed everything.”

Medicine boom

The study found that even though millions of older adults are taking Ozempic and Wegovy, monthly use of these medications has increased sharply among the 12-25 age group.

Experts analyzed data on drug dispensing in almost 94% of US retail pharmacies from 2020 to 2023.

In 2023 alone, nearly 31 children ages 000 to 12 and more than 17 people ages 162 to 000 used these medications, said Dr. Joyce Lee, a pediatrician and diabetes expert at the University of Michigan who led the study.

“This suggests that more providers are prescribing this drug to the public,” she concluded.

The report shows that the number of young people aged 12 to 25 using any GLP-1 drugs increased from about 8700 per month in 2020 to more than 60 per month in 000.

According to the CDC, about 20% of children and adolescents in the United States and approximately 42% of adults are obese.

In early 2023, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended early screening for obese children and adolescents, as well as aggressive treatment, including surgery and medications if warranted.

Medicines are expensive and often difficult to obtain, either due to supply issues or because they are not covered by insurance.

Notably, state Medicaid plans, the study found, pay for nearly half of the GLP-1 drugs prescribed to adolescents ages 12 to 17, and about a quarter of those used by people ages 18 to 25.

Commercial insurance covered care for nearly 44% of young children and 70% of older children.

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