Adolescents with obesity who did not respond to lifestyle therapy saw a greater reduction
in BMI standard deviation score during a 1-year intervention with the GLP-1 receptor agonist
liraglutide compared with similar adolescents assigned placebo, according to findings from a
randomized controlled trial published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
In a randomized, double-blind trial, researchers analyzed data from 251 adolescents aged 12
to 18 years with obesity considered poor responders to lifestyle therapy alone from five
countries: Belgium, Mexico, Russia, Sweden and the United States. During a 12-week run-in period,
all participants received counseling on healthy nutrition and physical activity for weight
loss. For a period of two years researchers randomly assigned participants to liraglutide 3 mg
(n = 125; mean age, 15 years; 56.8% girls) or volume-matched placebo (n = 126; mean age,
15 years; 61.9% girls) subcutaneously once daily, in addition to lifestyle therapy for 56
weeks followed by a 26-week period without treatment. Primary endpoint was change from baseline
in BMI standard deviation score (SDS) at the 56th week.
At 56 weeks, researchers found that liraglutide was superior to placebo for change from baseline
in BMI SDS, with an estimated treatment difference of –0.22 (95% CI, –0.37 to –0.08). Additionally,
compared with those assigned placebo, more participants in the liraglutide group experienced at
least a 5% reduction in BMI (43.3% vs. 18.7%) and at least a 10% reduction in BMI (26.1% vs. 8.1%)
during the study. BMI reduction was greater among adolescents assigned liraglutide vs. placebo, with
an estimated difference of –4.64 percentage points at 56 weeks (95% CI, –7.14 to –2.14). Similarly,
loss of body weight was greater in the liraglutide group vs. placebo, with an estimated difference
of –4.5 kg for absolute change and –5.01 percentage points for relative change. Hence, liraglutide
can be considered a promising candidate for weight loss in teens with obesity.