Meet the teens who have lost weight on Ozempic-like drugs — slimming down to stay alive

Deana Buckley wanted her daughter Demi to have a fair shot at happiness. 

Tipping the scales at almost 200 pounds by age 15, the Michigan girl was bullied. 

And despite being a high school athlete — breaking a sweat on the basketball, cheer and volleyball teams — she couldn’t shake the weight. 

“I’d look in the mirror and cry,” Demi, now 16, told The Post. “I truly hated my body.”

Unable to lose weight, Demi became depressed and resorted to harmful tactics in order to cope with her dwindling mental health. Deana Buckley

But in March 2023, Demi found supportive solace in a syringe — as have other teens faced with similar weight-loss issues.

That January, the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of semaglutide, once-weekly diabetes meds classified as GLP-1 receptor agonists, for obese youngsters 12 and up. 

Semaglutide is an active ingredient in both Wegovy and Ozempic. The latter, however, has yet to be FDA-approved for weight loss in folks under age 18. Ozempic, like equally popular weight loss pharmaceutical Mounjaro, is a Type 2 diabetes medication that has also helped users slim down. Wegovy is solely approved for weight loss management.

Deanna, who herself once weighed 366 pounds and is now down 150 pounds with help from Mounjaro, felt confident similar shots would work wonders for her struggling offspring.

Deana urged Demi’s healthcare provider to give her a prescription for Wegovy in order to help the teen shed unwanted pounds. Deana Buckley

Things got worse when Demi plunged into depression and developed an eating disorder. Then came self-harm.

That’s where the buck stopped for the concerned Deana. 

“We asked the doctor to put Demi on Wegovy,” said the mom of two, 50. “The doctor was a little hesitant at first, but I told her if this medication had been available to me as a teen, my whole world would have been different.”

Deana and Demi hope the teen’s journey aids in the elimination of stigmas surrounding obesity, as well as weight loss shots for minors. Deana Buckley

Pediatric surgeon Jun Tashiro tells The Post that more parents of overweight kids can consider following suit when it comes to the transformative jabs.

“Anti-obesity medications can help reduce weight, high cholesterol and high blood pressure, as well as decrease the risk of heart and kidney disease for patients,” said Tashiro, an expert in the Adolescent Healthy Weight Program at NYU Langone.

He conceded that the injections do come with a few side effects, such as nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. But Tashiro says patients with family histories of thyroid cancer and pancreatitis are at higher risk of developing more serious complications from the shots.

“In addition to diet and exercise, there are many options parents and adolescents can explore when it comes to weight loss,” he said, “including these medications.”

Demi is now down 60 pounds thanks to help from the injections. Deana Buckley

The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees. 

In a January 2023 report, it recommended anti-obesity pharmacotherapy for improving weight reduction outcomes in children aged 12 to 17. Just months later, in May, University of Minnesota researchers found that 45% of clinically obese teens lost weight while on semaglutide.  

Oprah Winfrey spotlighted 16-year-old Maggie Ervie, who shed 80 pounds on Victoza, a weight-loss injectable for kids, during her mid-March obesity special.

Buffalo, New York, mom Kailey Wood says her 12-year-old daughter, Natalie, has had similar success, melting away 50 pounds since beginning a Wegovy regimen in October.

Before taking the prescription drugs, the seventh grader had gained 30 pounds each year since age 5 due to a metabolic disorder. Natalie’s weight spurred diagnoses of polycystic ovary syndrome, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and pre-diabetes. 

“She’d say, ‘I’m fat. I don’t like the way that I look,’” Kailey, 37, told The Post. “I told her there was a solution.”

The body-positive mom reassured her tween that she was perfect as is but explained the meds could help if she was ready for a change. 

“She was like, ‘Hell, yeah, let’s do it,’” said Kailey. 

And although Natalie contends with bouts of constipation due to the doses, her overall health is now stabilized.

Diego attributes his weight loss to the meds, as well as his lifestyle overhaul. Julissa Alcantar MartÃnez

Julissa Martínez, 49, a mom of two from Houston, says her son, Diego, was equally excited to start taking weight loss injections at age 16. 

Despite having to deal with a little diarrhea and sulfur burps — smelly belches produced from hydrogen sulfide gas in the gut — he’s dropped 86 pounds. Inspired by the loss, his older sister, 21-year-old Julissa, has also shed 73 on the shots. 

Maritinez’s daughter, Julissa, told The Post she’s thankful that her mother advocated for her little brother’s weight loss, opening up the door for her own journey. Julissa Alcantar MartÃnez

But Diego, now 18, says the meds are only partially responsible for his transformation. 

“It’s not the GLP-1 that lost the weight,” he told The Post. “I walked 10,000 steps every day, ate less and more healthy.

“It’s more than just taking a shot,” added Diego. “You need to change your behavior and mindset.” 

Demi, now 60 pounds lighter, says losing those self-loathing thoughts has been the biggest weight off of her shoulders.  

“I’m happier with my body and mind,” said the teen. “I look in the mirror and feel confident.”