Give teens new ‘game changing’ weight-loss jab to halt obesity
SCIENTISTS are calling for the NHS to offer teens a “game-changing” weight-loss jab after trials showed it reversed obesity in almost half of cases.
“Historically unprecedented” weight loss was achieved in obese 12 to 17-year-olds given a weekly injection of semaglutide, which suppresses appetite.
The US trial saw 45 per cent of adolescents lose enough weight to drop below the clinical cutoff for obesity 17 months later.
British scientists want the NHS to follow US regulators in giving emergency approval of the drug for dangerously overweight teens.
Lead author Dr Aaron Kelly, from University of Minnesota, said the earlier it was available on the NHS, “the better”.
He added: “For many children who are able to get access [to semaglutide] it can be life-changing.
“We see that semaglutide reduced weight to a level below what is defined as clinical obesity in nearly 50 per cent of the teens, which is historically unprecedented with treatments other than bariatric surgery.”
The jab is also known by its brand name, Wegovy. It has been in the news recently as celebrities, including Elon Musk, inset right,
have reportedly used the jab to lose weight. It works by suppressing appetite and mimicking the hormone glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP1), which is released after eating.
Dr Stephen Lawrence, of Warwick University Medical School, said: “I have seen children who are morbidly obese and it’s so difficult for them and for their parents. They are a really vulnerable group.
“Failure to address this will risk many of them not reaching pensionable age.”
Dr Simon Cork, of Anglia Ruskin University, explained that weight loss through diet and exercise “ultimately
leads to your body thinking that it’s starving” and trying to put weight on.
What this drug does is stop that response from happening. These drugs are game-changing.”
The trial findings are presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Dublin.
But British teenagers may have to wait at least a year to access the jab after drugmaker Novo Nordisk delayed its latest research evidence submission to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence,
which gives approval for the NHS. Nice recommends it for obese adults with at least one other linked health condition, such as Type 2 diabetes. But supply shortages have delayed NHS rollout. ●●Australian scientists have pinpointed the brain cells that drive appetite in obesity.
They found a “vicious cycle” that disrupts the body’s ability to balance its energy input with energy storage – leading to weight gain. They say the discovery opens the possibility of a “new approach” to developing treatments. Research indicates brain cells boost appetite when there is a prolonged surplus of energy in the body, such as excess fat accumulation. Those cells produced the appetitestimulating molecule NPY and made the brain more sensitive to the molecule, boosting appetite even further. Study senior author Professor Herbert Herzog said it has the potential to “take the development of therapy into a new direction”. More than one in 10 adults are affected by obesity and it increases a person’s risk of developing diabetes and heart disease.