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What to Know About Weight Loss Drugs for Children & Teens?

It’s no secret that childhood obesity is on the rise in the United States. The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) estimates that it affects nearly one in five kids and adolescents ages 2-19. In order to combat it, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommended that pediatricians should offer weight loss drugs alongside diet and lifestyle to adolescents. One of these drugs, Saxenda, has gained a lot of popularity in recent years. If you want to try a safe and effective medication to reduce your children’s weight,  buy Saxenda online. In this blog, we will discuss the weight loss medicines and guidelines recommended by AAP. We will also focus on what are experts’ perspectives on the use of these medicines.

What Are the Complications of Childhood Obesity?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define obesity in children and teens as having a BMI at or above the 85 percentile and below the 95 percentile. For example, the BMI of a 10-year-old boy is considered overweight if his BMI is 21 (85 percentile), while it is considered obese if his BMI is 23 (95 percentile).

[Note: An individual’s BMI is estimated by dividing their body weight in kilograms by their height in meters squared].  

Obese children are more likely to develop health problems than their peers who maintain a healthy weight. The most serious health complications include:

  • Diabetes: Type 2 diabetes occurs when your body fails to metabolize glucose completely. Diabetes can cause eye disease, nerve damage, and kidney dysfunction. Overweight children and adults are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes. 

  • Heart Disease: Children with obesity are at greater risk of developing heart disease due to high cholesterol and high blood pressure. It is possible for fat and salt-rich foods to increase cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Heart disease can lead to heart attacks and strokes.

  • Asthma: Inflammation of the airways of the lungs causes asthma. Obesity is the most common comorbidity (when two diseases occur concurrently) with asthma, but researchers aren’t sure exactly how the two conditions are related. In the United States, about 38% of adults with asthma also have obesity, according to a study published in Asthma Research and Practice. 

  • Sleep Disorders: Obese kids and teens may also have sleep disorders, such as excessive snoring and sleep apnea. Their airways can be blocked by excess weight in the neck area.

  • Joint Pain: Excess weight can also cause joint stiffness, pain, and limited range of motion in your child. Joint problems can often be decreased by losing weight. 

What Are the Weight-Loss Guidelines Recommend for Children?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is the largest association of pediatricians in the United States. It takes an in depth stance on childhood obesity, viewing it as a chronic disease with complex causes. They identify limited access to nutritious foods, insufficient physical activity, and inadequate healthcare as contributors to this health challenge.

What Are the Age-Specific Recommendations of AAP?

  1. For the age group of children 12 years and Older, the guidelines endorse a combination of interventions, including weight-loss drugs, behavioral therapy, and lifestyle modifications. This approach aims to provide a holistic framework to deal with obesity in adolescents.

  2. Weight-loss surgery is recommended for cases of severe obesity in children aged 13 or older. This signifies the acknowledgment of extreme cases and the importance of tailored interventions for optimal health outcomes.

  3. Children aged six and above are advised to undergo annual Body Mass Index assessments and motivational interviews. This proactive approach allows for regular assessment and intervention, emphasizing the significance of early detection and intervention.

What Is AAP’s Goal for Obese Children?

The Vice chair of AAP’s Clinical Practice Guideline Subcommittee on Obesity, Dr Sandra Hassink emphasizes that the overall goal of the guidelines is to facilitate sustainable lifestyle, behavioral, or environmental changes. Children and teens will be empowered to make lasting improvements to their health by prioritizing the treatments that are based on the chronic nature of obesity.

Which Weight Loss Drugs Are Approved for Children?

There are several drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration for weight loss in children. It was found that the following medicines reduce appetite by delaying gastric emptying and acting on central nervous system targets, such as:

  • Saxenda: Liraglutide injections (brand name Saxenda) are FDA-approved for treating obesity in children 12 years and older.  

  • Wegovy: Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy, under the generic name semaglutide, is approved for children 12 and up with obesity. FDA has now listed Wegovy as being in short supply due to popular demand.

  • Qsymia: The FDA-approved topiramate and phentermine extended-release capsules (label name Qsymia) for chronic weight management in obese patients aged 12 or older.

  • Orlistat: These capsules are FDA-approved for treating obesity in children 12 years and older. They work by inhibiting the absorption of dietary fats in the intestines, leading to weight loss.

How Long Should Children Take Weight Loss Drugs? Experts Recommendation

Doctors who treat obesity in children say one of the most common questions they get from parents is how long their child needs to be on a weight loss drug like Saxenda injections. Here is what the experts recommend:  

Dr Emily Breidbart’s Perspective

Dr Emily Breidbart, a pediatric endocrinologist at NYU Langone Health, suggests that weight loss drugs for teenagers should be viewed as a sustained treatment1. She recommends a prolonged approach to using these medications, similar to the management of chronic diseases such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

Dr David Ludwig’s Concerns

Dr David Ludwig, a pediatric endocrinologist at Boston Children’s Hospital, has expressed concerns about the use of weight loss drugs for teenagers. He highlights that there is a need for caution when using these medications in children. There are potential unknown long-term effects, particularly when compared to the relatively short treatment duration for older adults.

Dr Alaina Vidmar’s Balancing Act

Dr Alaina Vidmar, medical director of the healthy weight clinic at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, underscores the necessity for more data on weight loss drugs extended use in teenagers. She recognises the need for more understanding but stresses the importance of evaluating potential risks in relation to the long-term consequences of obesity. She urges a balanced perspective.

When Should a Child Start Weight Loss Drugs? 

The American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines say there isn’t a set age or weight limit for starting weight loss medicine such as Saxenda injections in children. Dr Alaina Vidmar explains that ways of treating obesity in children are always changing. However, the decisions should be based on each child’s situation. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, doctors should look at factors like the child’s age, weight, and other health conditions to decide the best way to help them. They should focus on personalized decisions that consider what’s right for each child by considering the following factors:

BMI Variability

In the absence of a universal BMI cutoff for children, experts, including Dr Vidmar, acknowledge the challenge of determining when to recommend weight loss drugs. It is extremely important to look at each child’s situation separately. It’s not just about their BMI number; other things like how they’re growing and their age also play a significant role. So, deciding when to use weight loss drugs needs a careful look at all these factors for each child.

Assessing Health Complications

Dr Vidmar talks about how the CDC has three classes for childhood obesity, from Class I to Class III. Obesity Class III means more health issues. Even though the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t say to use medicine based on the obesity class, doctors need to think about the health risks. Conditions like Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol can affect the choice to suggest weight loss medicine. It’s like evaluating how healthy a child is when deciding if medicine might help them.

Individualized Treatment

Dr Emily Breidbart stresses the significance of customizing treatment in accordance with the severity of the patient’s condition. She emphasizes that the decision to offer weight loss medicine may be influenced by disorders that are associated with obesity, such as sleep apnea or joint discomfort. The medicines should be particularly done on those individuals who have not been successful with traditional methods such as diet and exercise.

What About Diet and Exercise for a Child on Weight-Loss Drugs? 

While weight loss medications can be beneficial for children dealing with obesity, it’s essential to emphasize that they are not standalone solutions. Maintaining a healthy diet and engaging in regular exercise remain integral components of a comprehensive approach to pediatric weight management.

Dr David Ludwig underscores the effectiveness of weight loss drugs but points out their limitations. These medications typically result in about a 15% weight loss, which may fall short for individuals with significant excess weight, such as 50% or even 100%. Recognizing this, it becomes crucial to supplement medication with lifestyle modifications.

Ludwig’s Critique of Guidelines

He said in the Journal of the American Medical Association that the American Academy of Paediatrics standards did not give dietary changes enough weight. He wants to use a mix of methods, suggesting a low-carbohydrate diet along with possibly lower amounts of weight-loss drugs. According to him, this method could cut down on side effects, costs, and long-term risks related to medicines like Saxenda injections.

Why Is Balance Important?

The overarching message is clear: a harmonious blend of medication, dietary adjustments, and regular physical activity holds the key to effective and sustainable weight loss for children grappling with obesity. This multifaceted strategy aims not only for immediate results but also considers long-term well-being, striving to minimize potential risks and maximize overall success.

Do These Drugs Promote Eating Disorders in Children?

Eating disorders are mental illnesses that are marked by unhealthy eating habits that impair a person’s physical and mental health. The American Academy of Paediatrics’ guidelines on weight loss drugs have caused a lot of debate and criticism from organizations that work to treat and prevent eating disorders. According to the JAMA Paediatrics magazine, which is put out by the American Medical Association, about 20% of children already have eating disorders. Here is what experts suggest:

  • Dr Emily Breidbart agrees that people are worried about the possible link between weight loss drugs and eating disorders. She encourages a cautious approach and only prescribes these drugs in the worst cases of serious obesity, especially when other health problems are present.

  • Dr Alaina Vidmar stresses how important it is to see obesity as a long-term illness. She tries to get across to patients and their families that the focus shouldn’t just be on body size or numbers on the scale but on lowering the risks and problems that come with being overweight. This method tries to help people understand how to deal with obesity as a whole and reduce the negative effects it might have on mental health.

Key Considerations Before Using Weight Loss Drugs on Children

  • Medical Evaluation: It is important that children undergo a comprehensive medical evaluation by a healthcare professional before starting any weight loss drug.

  • Lifestyle Modifications: Healthy lifestyle changes, including a balanced diet and regular physical activity, should be implemented alongside medication. To manage weight sustainably, these modifications synergize with the drug’s effects.

  • Monitoring and Follow-Up: The child’s response to the medication, potential side effects, and any impact on growth and development should be monitored regularly. Follow-up appointments with healthcare providers are important to address any concerns.

  • Psychological Support: There is a need for psychological support for children who are taking weight loss drugs, considering the psychological effects that may occur. Weight management or body image concerns may require counseling or support groups to be addressed.

  • Educating Parents: The medication, possible side effects, and the importance of adherence should be thoroughly explained to parents. Open communication channels with healthcare providers are essential for informed consent.

Overall, it’s important to evaluate the balance between the benefits of weight loss and potential risks. Healthcare providers and parents must regularly assess the child’s progress and make informed decisions. Additionally, you can buy Saxenda online at discounted prices at the best Canadian online pharmacy.


Addressing childhood obesity necessitates a thoughtful combination of medical assistance, modifications to the child’s lifestyle, and emotional encouragement. Weight loss drugs can be helpful, but they should not be relied upon as the sole solution. The American Academy of Paediatrics advocates for a comprehensive approach that encompasses individualized care, advice tailored to each child’s age, and continuous monitoring. 

Experts emphasize the significance of ongoing study and staying vigilant about potential long-term effects. Successful weight loss for kids requires collaboration between doctors and parents, including regular check-ups and support. The ultimate goal is to equip children with the necessary tools to make lasting improvements to their health while also reducing risks and enhancing overall well-being.

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