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Optimal Treatment Strategies for use of Anti-Obesity Medications in Children and Adolescents

May 2024 Council

Lead Division/Office


Point(s) of Contact

Stavroula Osganian, M.D., Sc.D., M.P.H.

Executive Summary

Obesity in youth remains prevalent and a major public health problem. Since 2020, three anti-obesity medications have been approved by the FDA in youth ages 12 years and older with non-syndromic obesity. Studies of AOMs demonstrate significant improvements in BMI and cardiometabolic risk factors. However, a strong evidence base is lacking to guide treatment decisions for youth, in which physical and psychosocial growth and development need to be considered, including optimal developmental stage for AOM initiation; drug class and dosage; behavioral, nutritional and physical activity interventions to support growth and development and preservation of lean body mass; type and intensity of lifestyle interventions needed to support optimal weight and psychosocial outcomes; and potential strategies to enable discontinuation of AOMs and avoid lifetime use while preserving health benefits. This initiative will support investigator-initiated research to test AOM treatment strategies for youth with obesity that could be implemented in clinical care settings to maximize benefits and minimize risks of AOM use. Given the rapidly changing landscape and knowledge gaps in treatment strategies and safety with AOM use, well-designed studies are needed to support the appropriate, effective, and safe use of AOMs in diverse populations of children and adolescents. Findings will inform optimal medical management of children and adolescents with obesity.