(HealthDay News) – For adolescents with severe obesity, treatment with the glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist exenatide is associated with a greater reduction in body mass index (BMI) and body weight compared with placebo, according to a study published online Feb. 4 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Aaron S. Kelly, PhD, from the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis, and colleagues examined the effects of exenatide on BMI and cardiometabolic risk factors in 26 adolescents with severe obesity at an academic medical center and an outpatient endocrinology clinic. Participants received lifestyle modification counseling and were randomly allocated to twice-daily exenatide or placebo injections for three months, followed by an open-label extension for three months.

Of the 22 patients who completed the trial, the researchers found that those randomized to exenatide had a significantly greater reduction in the percent change in BMI compared with those assigned to placebo (−2.7%; P=0.03). Findings were similar for absolute change in BMI and body weight. A reduction in systolic blood pressure was seen with exenatide, although this did not reach statistical significance. In the open-label extension, those initially randomized to exenatide had a further BMI reduction (cumulative reduction, 4%).

“In conclusion, data from the current study provide evidence that GLP-1 receptor agonist treatment reduces BMI and elicits a potentially meaningful reduction in systolic blood pressure in adolescents with severe obesity,” the authors write. “Future clinical trials with GLP-1 receptor agonists should extend treatment beyond six months and evaluate changes in other health outcomes.”

Two authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical companies, including Amylin, the manufacturer of exenatide.

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