Use of child obesity drug increases

Thursday 3rd September, 2009

The number of children being prescribed weight-loss drugs has risen, according to a new study.

Data taken between 1999 and 2006 suggests a 15-fold increase in prescriptions for obesity drugs for under-18s and analysis indicates 1,300 children could be using the treatment without license.

Currently, one million adults in the UK use the drugs and obesity experts have called for an increased focus on encouraging and promoting healthier lifestyles rather than reliance on drugs to slow the trend.

Weight-loss drugs work by altering chemical messages to the brain about the feelings associated with food. They also help prevent fat absorption in the body.

Anti-obesity drugs are only licensed for use on adults and therefore any GP prescribing them to children is doing so unlicensed.

The majority of children are stopping taking the drugs before any benefits are seen but they could be experiencing adverse side-effects which is causing them to stop.

Children could also be ceasing to take the pills because they are expecting a ‘miracle quick fix cure’ and when sudden weight loss doesn’t occur they stop using them.

This year saw chemists given the power to sell the most popular weight-loss drug ‘Orlistat’ over-the-counter which could make its use even more common. Sold under the name of ‘Alli’, the over-the-counter drug is a lower dose than the one prescribed by GPs.

Experts believe the use of drugs for treating childhood obesity is indicative of today’s society. Rather than preventing obesity, people are ignoring advice and measures in favour of drug treatment which should only be used as a last resort.

Messages about eating healthily, exercising and reducing weight are being passed over in favour of medication by some healthcare professionals.

The nation’s obesity problem has been triggered by a number of factors such as insufficient open spaces for playing and exercising along with poor regulation of the food industry. There’s a distinct failure to regulate the amount of energy going in and energy going out.



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