A medication used to treat type 2 diabetes appears to help overweight teenagers lose weight when combined with a programme designed to help them change their lifestyle habits, researchers report.
The obese kids who took the drug, metformin XR, lost a small but statistically significant amount of weight, says a study in the February issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
According to the study, almost a third of American children are overweight or obese, conditions that put them at high risk for type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
While some doctors use metformin to treat non-diabetic fat teens, it hasn't been clear if it actually works.
'Safe and tolerated'
Researchers enrolled 77 fat adolescents, aged 13 to 18, in a programme designed to boost their physical activity and help them control their diet. Some received a placebo, while others got a daily dose of 2 000 milligrams of metformin XR.
Over a year, the average body-mass index - a measurement of weight in relation to height - fell by 0.9 in the metformin group but grew by 0.2 in those who took a placebo.
"Metformin was safe and tolerated in this population. These results indicate that metformin may have an important role in the treatment of adolescent obesity," the authors concluded.
"Longer-term studies will be needed to define the effects of metformin treatment on obesity-related disease risk in this population." - (HealthDay News, February 2010)