Safety and Efficacy of Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 Receptor Agonists in Children and Adolescents with Obesity: A Meta-Analysis

Type Article

Journal Article


P. M. Ryan; S. Seltzer; N. E. Hayward; D. A. Rodriguez; R. T. Sless; C. P. Hawkes

Year of publication



J Pediatr







OBJECTIVES: To determine the weight, body mass index (BMI), cardiometabolic, and gastrointestinal effects of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists in children with obesity. STUDY DESIGN: Web of Science, PubMed/MEDLINE, and Scopus databases from 01/01/1994-01/01/2021 for randomized control trials examining the weight, BMI, cardiometabolic, or gastrointestinal effects of GLP-1 receptor agonists in children and adolescents with obesity. Data were extracted by 2 independent surveyors and a random effects model was applied to meta-analyze generic inverse variance outcomes. Primary outcomes were related to weight and cardiometabolic profile, and secondary outcomes of interest were gastrointestinal-related treatment-emergent adverse events. RESULTS: Nine studies involving 574 participants were identified, of which 3 involved exenatide and 6 involved liraglutide. GLP-1 receptor agonists use caused a modest reduction in body weight (mean difference [MD] -1.50 [-2.50,-0.50] kg, I(2) 64%), BMI (MD -1.24 [-1.71,-0.77] kg/m(2), I(2) 0%), and BMI z score (MD -0.14 [-0.23,-0.06], I(2) 43%). Glycemic control was improved in children with proven insulin resistance (glycated hemoglobin A1c MD -1.05 [-1.93,-0.18] %, I(2) 76%). Although no lipid profile improvements were noted, a modest decrease in systolic blood pressure was detected (MD -2.30 [-4.11,-0.49] mm Hg; I(2) 0%). Finally, analysis of gastrointestinal-related treatment-emergent adverse events revealed an increased risk of nausea (risk ratio 2.11 [1.44, 3.09]; I(2) 0%), without significant increases in other gastrointestinal symptoms. CONCLUSIONS: This meta-analysis indicates that GLP-1 receptor agonists are safe and effective in modestly reducing weight, BMI, glycated hemoglobin A1c, and systolic blood pressure in children and adolescents with obesity in a clinical setting, albeit with increased rates of nausea. PROSPERO ID: CRD42020195869.