Few children who become obese are able to lose and keep off weight with diet and exercise alone, leading some doctors to prescribe drugs, such as the diabetes drug metformin, to treat childhood obesity. However, a new study suggests that metformin may not help kids and teens without diabetes lose weight over the long term.
The study, which reviewed information from previous research, found no evidence that children and teens who took the drug lost more weight after one year than those who did not take the drug.
While some adolescents who took the drug did experience short-term weight loss (six months or less), the effect was modest, and it’s not clear whether such limited weight loss would actually improve their health, the researchers said.
Given the current evidence, metformin has not been shown to be superior to other weight-loss treatments for kids, such as diet and exercise, the researchers said.
“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.
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