Young people show strong interest in weight loss drugs

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Recently, there’s been a significant increase in the interest around weight loss medications like Wegovy and Ozempic, particularly among the younger population in the United States.

However, comprehensive data tracking the use of these drugs across the country has been limited.

A recent study conducted by Michigan Medicine provides fresh insights into this trend, revealing a rapid rise in the use of these medications among teenagers and young adults between the ages of 12 and 25, with a notable focus on females.

The research utilized data from 2020 to 2023, gathered from a national database that covers 92% of U.S. pharmacies. Findings showed a staggering 594% rise in the monthly usage of drugs such as Wegovy, Ozempic, and other similar medications among this age group.

The increase was even more dramatic among females. Specifically, the usage of these drugs among female teenagers (12 to 17 years old) rose by 588%, compared to a 504% increase among male teenagers.

Among young adults (18 to 25 years old), female usage soared by 659%, while the increase for males was 481%.

Joyce Lee, MD, MPH, a pediatric endocrinologist and the lead author of the study, emphasized the significance of this data.

“This is the first study to document national trends in the use of these medications in any population, including youth,” she stated. Dr. Lee is affiliated with the University of Michigan Medical School and several of its specialized centers and institutes.

These medications, known as glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1RAs), were initially approved for managing type 2 diabetes in 2005 and later for weight management in 2014.

Their popularity surged in 2021 following the approval of the drug semaglutide (marketed as Wegovy) for weight management in adults. The approval extended to adolescents by the end of 2022, which likely fueled the recent increases in usage.

The study also highlighted that the main prescribers of these medications to young people are endocrinologists, family doctors, and nurse practitioners.

This finding suggests that these healthcare providers should be key targets for educational efforts to ensure the drugs are prescribed safely and appropriately.

One of the concerns noted in the study was the significant increase in the prescribing of Ozempic to youth, despite it not being approved for use in children for either diabetes or weight management.

“This indicates a growing trend of using Ozempic off-label for weight control in adolescents and young adults,” explained Kao-Ping Chua, MD, the senior author of the paper.

Dr. Lee further mentioned concerns regarding the high cost of these medications, which are typically taken over a long period, and the unknown impacts on growth and development in young users.

She stressed the importance of understanding the long-term safety, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of these drugs for adolescents and young adults.

Overall, while these medications offer promising benefits for weight management, their increasing use among young people highlights the need for careful oversight and understanding of their long-term effects.

If you care about weight loss, please read studies that hop extract could reduce belly fat in overweight people, and early time-restricted eating could help lose weight .

For more information about weight loss, please see recent studies that Mediterranean diet can reduce belly fat much better, and Keto diet could help control body weight and blood sugar in diabetes.

The research findings can be found in JAMA.

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