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News Every Day |

Kids as young as six in NHS being enrolled on trial of fat jabs

CHILDREN as young as six years old are being recruited on a trial of fat jabs by NHS hospitals.

Ozempic and Wegovy jabs have been hugely popular among adults as a weight loss tool, but come with some nasty side effects.

Getty
Kids as young as six years old are being enrolled into a trial of Wegovy[/caption]
Reuters
Injection pens of Novo Nordisk’s weight-loss drug Wegovy[/caption]

And now the company behind the jabs are sponsoring a study of the active ingredient in the jabs (semaglutide) on overweight kids and teens.

They are being enrolled at four NHS hospitals in Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool and Bristol as well as several other locations across the globe, including the US, Germany, Portugal and Sweden.

Southampton is also listed as ‘withdrawn’ from taking part.

The trial has two arms; one among six to 12-year-olds, and another among those older than 12 but less than 18 years old.

Over two and a half years, researchers will compare weight loss in those given either semaglutide or a dummy drug at random.

Semaglutide mimics the hormone responsible for regulating appetite (GLP-1), reducing appetite, eating and therefore weight.

Some 210 participants will be recruited and will also be given a restricted calorie diet and exercise programme.

Criteria for joining the trial include that the child must be overweight and have at least one health condition such as type 2 diabetes, and their parents have tried and failed to reduce their weight.

Novo Nordisk is sponsoring the study. The company is behind both Wegovy and Ozempic.

Research has shown that people using semaglutide can drop around 16 per cent of their body weight over 68 weeks. But it is not considered a magic pill.

A person still needs to make lifestyle changes to keep the weight off – although it is considered easier to do this when appetite is reduced. 

Side effects of the drug include dizziness, vomiting, fatigue and headaches.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found nausea and diarrhoea were the most common side-effects.

But these were “typically transient and mild-to-moderate in severity and subsided with time”, researchers said.

Other rare complications include gallbladder problems, kidney failure, serious allergic reaction and depression.

While Ozempic is used for the treatment of type-2 diabetes, Wegovy is primarily a weight loss medication and has been in the UK since 2022. 

The typical dose for weight loss is 2.4 milligrams, given weekly as subcutaneous (under the skin) self-injections.

Fat jabs rejected for Brit teens

Wegovy has been approved for weight loss among 12 to 17-year-olds in the US.

Novo Nordisk has been seeking approval from NICE, the UK’s medicine watchdog. 

But in July last year, NICE said it could not make a recommendation for Wegovy in 12 to 17-year-olds because it had not been provided enough evidence. It added it was open to review the decision.

The trial could therefore pave the way for teenagers – and even children in primary school – to get prescriptions.

NHS England said while the trial is being held at health service facilities, the study was not an NHS trial, MailOnline reported.

It wouldn’t be the first time fat jabs have been trialled on youngsters.

A clinical trial in Birmingham involving 180 obese and overweight children aged 12 to 17 suggested that the jabs helped them to reduce their body mass index by 16 per cent in 15 months.

Research in the US, published in May 2023, showed kids as young as 12 lost around 3st (18kg) on average on semaglutide injections.

Nearly half of teenagers given a weekly jab for 16 months dropped below clinical obesity levels.

However, Dr Aaron Kelly, of Minnesota University in the US, who led the study, said obese kids may have to stay on it to avoid weight “coming right back”.

He told the European Congress on Obesity, in Dublin: “Obesity is a chronic disease and chronic diseases require chronic treatments.

“Semaglutide is transformative for many children who are able to get access. It can be life-changing.

“Nothing brings me more pleasure than hearing the stories from adolescents who have been struggling their entire life to manage their weight.

“This gives them a tool to help take control of their weight, it’s transformational for many teenagers.”

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