A weight loss drug approved in the US can be prescribed to kids as young as 12.
The country’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cleared the use of a treatment called Wegovy from pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk.
It can be made available to children and teens with a body mass index (BMI) in the top five per cent for their age.
‘Obesity is a disease that can start in childhood or adolescence, and up to 90 percent of teenagers with obesity may continue to live with obesity into adulthood,’ Novo Nordisk said in a press release.
‘Teens with obesity are at a greater risk of developing serious weight-related health problems.’
The drug takes the form of a weekly injection that impersonates the hormone glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) – which in turn suppresses appetite.
It had initially been passed by the FDA in 2021 – but this further approval means it can be prescribed to by doctors to patients under the age of 18.
‘The prevalence of teen obesity in the US continues to rise, affecting teens and their families. Now, more than ever, we need new options to support teens,’ said Aaron S Kelly, Co-director of the Center for Pediatric Obesity Medicine at the University of Minnesota.
‘This FDA approval offers an additional tool to address this serious, chronic, progressive disease.’
Obesity in the UK
According to the World Health Organisation, obesity has nearly tripled worldwide since 1975.
It continues to be a problem in the UK where, the NHS reports, there were just over one million hospital admissions in 2021 where obesity was a factor.
At present, 64% of adults are overweight or obese, but the numbers are rising year on year.
According to analysis by Cancer Research, this will rise even further to seven in 10 (71%) within two decades.
Of those, 21 million people will be obese, amounting to four in 10 (36%) of all adults.