New Drugs, Strong Arguments (Continued)

There are arguments against GLP-1 agonists, the seemingly miraculous drugs that have garnered so much publicity lately. There is trepidation about the effect of these substances on healthy, lean tissue, especially in younger people, whose baseline body composition might be seriously compromised.

But some of those fears have been, if not laid to rest, at least alleviated. After a 72-week trial, an impressive study presented its analysis:

[T]irzepatide once weekly provided substantial reductions in body weight, consistent across all BMI categories, with improvement in body composition that was clinically meaningful and consistent across age groups… Fat mass was reduced 33-36% and lean mass 10-11% depending upon age group. Thus, only one-quarter of the weight lost was lean mass…

Then, up comes a piece in The Atlantic, titled “Ozempic in Teens Is a Mess.”  Either the writer Yasmin Tayag or perhaps an editor contributed the line, “The drug could reroute the trajectory of a kid’s life — or throw it off course.” Which are two different ways to say the same thing: there will be change. The author mentions that American teens (12- to 19-year-olds) are currently in the situation of 22% of them being obese.

We have heard the saying, “A blessing in disguise.” And here is a curse in disguise: There are indications that for adolescents, semaglutide doesn’t simply work — it might even work better for that demographic than for adults. Does anyone seriously think these drugs can be kept away from teens? It really looks like a matter of not “if,” but “when.”

Reroute, or throw off?

This is going to happen, and like just about anything else in life, it will affect some kids in one way and some in another way. The pubescent body has one job, to grow and develop. It can all too easily become the boss, and demand too much food for its own good. At the same time and just to make things more difficult, the brain (and genes) enforce the ancient, locked-in, hard-wired instruction manual that tells the body to hoard every bit of fat it can, as protection against rough times ahead.

The other thing about adolescents is, their brains are not fully formed either, and they can get some peculiar ideas. Also in the medical profession, worriers worry, among other things, about the loss of perfectly good muscle. There really are not many studies, and certainly no long-term studies, of the effect of these weight-loss drugs on young people.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Tirzepatide improves body composition across a range of adult age groups, study shows,”, 05/19/23
Source: “Ozempic in Teens Is a Mess,”, 05/25/23
Image by Sammie Chaffin on Unsplash

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Profiles: Kids Struggling with Weight

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The Book

OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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