Use Of Wegovy And Other Weight-Loss Drugs Soars Among Kids

At 17, Israel McKenzie was so burdened by obesity that he stopped going to high school in person and was embarrassed to speak to people at his restaurant job.

“I was in a really dark place,” says McKenzie, whose weight had climbed to 335 pounds on his 6-foot-1 frame, despite repeated efforts to diet and exercise. “I had given up hope.”

But last year, the weight-loss drug Wegovy helped him shed 110 pounds in nine months, making the rural Tennessee teen part of a surge of adolescents and young adults using diabetes and obesity medications known as GLP-1 receptor agonists, new research shows.

Even as millions of older adults clamor for drugs such as Ozempic and Wegovy, monthly use of the medications soared in people aged 12 to 25. That’s according to the new analysis of dispensing records from nearly 94% of U.S. retail pharmacies from 2020 to 2023.

The report, published in the journal JAMA on Wednesday, used the IQVIA prescription database to compile the first look at the national uptake of GLP-1 drugs among that age group. Nearly 31,000 children aged 12 to 17 and more than 162,000 people aged 18 to 25 used the medications in 2023 alone, said Dr. Joyce Lee, a University of Michigan pediatrician and diabetes expert who led the research.

“What it’s suggesting is that it’s one of the tools in the toolbox and there are more providers prescribing this medication for the population,” she said.

Read full story at ABC News.