Feb. 1, 2010 -- The diabetes drug metformin may help obese teenagers lose
weight when combined with healthy lifestyle changes.
A new study shows that non-diabetic obese teenagers treated with metformin
XR (extended release formulation) along with healthy lifestyle modifications
had a more significant decrease in body mass index (BMI, a ratio of weight in
relation to height used to indicate obesity) than those treated with lifestyle
Researchers say although metformin is commonly used to treat obesity in
teenagers without diabetes, there haven’t been any studies to confirm its
effectiveness as an obesity treatment.
Childhood obesity rates have more than tripled in the U.S. over the last 50
years, and nearly a third of all children in the U.S. are now considered
overweight or obese. Obesity in childhood is associated with significant health
risks, including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and risk of heart
disease as an adult.
Researchers say childhood obesity is treated with healthy lifestyle
interventions, including diet and exercise, but studies show the success of
these efforts varies greatly.
In the study, researchers compared the effects of treatment with metformin
combined with healthy diet and exercise changes vs. placebo with lifestyle
intervention in 77 obese teenagers over 48 weeks, followed by an additional
48-week follow-up period.
The results showed that the BMI of teens who received metformin in addition
to lifestyle changes decreased 0.9 after 48 weeks’ study, compared to a 0.2
increase in the placebo group.
Researchers say the BMI difference between the two groups persisted for up
to six months after they stopped taking the drug.
“These results indicate that metformin may have an important role in the
treatment of adolescent obesity,” write researcher Darrell M. Wilson, MD, of
the division of pediatric endocrinology and diabetes at Stanford University,
and colleagues in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.
“Longer-term studies will be needed to define the effects of metformin
treatment on obesity-related disease risk in this population.”