Over-prescribing anti-diabetes drugs proves unhelpful to child obesity

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Written by Alyssa Clark Once again, we are seeing healthcares solution-based mentality focused in on prescribing more and more pills to solve our heal...

Written by Alyssa Clark


Once again, we are seeing healthcare’s solution-based mentality focused in on prescribing more and more pills to solve our health problems, rather than doing things “the old fashioned way” with a change to the child’s diet and embracing rigorous exercise. Although obese children have a tremendously difficult time shedding the weight once putting it on with traditional diet and exercise, pills are looking more and more like the easy-fix for healthcare providers, when parents and patients feel that more medication isn’t necessarily the answer to difficult health problems. Especially when it comes to the health of a young child, prescribed pills should not be the immediate solution to curing obesity.

A study was recently conducted which confirmed this hunch— the study suggested that children and teens who took the prescribed anti-diabetes drugs for their respective problems with obesity from their healthcare providers did not show an improvement in weight loss; and in fact if any weight loss was actually achieved, it was short-term (six months of less) and the effect was less than noticeable. This weight loss was not guaranteed to even improve the child’s overall health it was so insignificant, and given this current evidence it seems unheard of to continue the emphasis on pills to solve the problems that simple diet and exercise could do.

"Unfortunately, this drug is not going to be the answer," said study researcher Marian McDonagh, of Oregon Health & Science University. Overall, the drug does not appear to provide enough weight reduction for children to experience meaningful health benefits in the long term, McDonagh said.

Is this yet another maneuver by pharmaceutical companies trying to take advantage of the serious and sensitive issue that is childhood obesity? Do we need to be weary of the powerhouse drug companies taking advantage of our kids’ struggles?

Fortunately for pharma companies, anti-diabetes drugs have had success with patients who are in actual need of the diabetes drugs to fight the illness. Specific drugs like metformin, which is used to treat childhood diabetes, has proven to be less than effective on kids who do not have the disease, however, there is something to be said for its abilities to help those kids who are unfortunately plagued with this horrible illness. A study was conducted on kids who were diagnosed with diabetes, and the results were positive in suggesting that there IS light on the horizon for pharma companies trying to spread their products.

The study analyzed information from 14 previous studies (eight in the United States and others in Canada, Australia, Mexico, Europe, Iran and Turkey), which included a total of 946 children ages 10 to 16 who did not have diabetes. The children's body mass indices (BMIs) ranged from 26 to 41. In most studies, children who took metformin also engaged in lifestyle changes aimed at helping them lose weight.

The message is not clear, but it is relatively simple. The modern day misconception that we can swallow our problems away with a little pill is still ever-present in today’s day and age, and we should not be compliant with it. When the specific needs of a patient, i.e. a child with diabetes and struggling with obesity, calls for a prescription, one should be administered based on the value it will serve the child not the monetary value determined by the drug companies looking for profits. 


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