Adult obesity drugs given to children

September 29, 2009


Drugs that are licensed in the UK to be used only in adults for obesity are apparently being increasingly prescribed for children. Adolescents and children are being prescribed these drugs, and there has been a 15-fold rise since 1999. The fact they are not licensed for children is a cause for concern, but on the upside it seems that most stop using them before they could expect to see any benefit, usually after 3 months.

A recent study, published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, shows under 18′s being given prescriptions for Orlistat, also known as Xenical or Alli. Orlistat has been approved for children as young as 12 in the US, but only for adults in the UK. It’s not known why they stop talking them so soon, but one theory by Russell Viner, one of the authors of the study based at the General & Adolescent Paediatrics Unit at University College London, is either they have excessive side effects or those taking them they could be expecting the drugs to deliver a miracle quick fix and stop using them when sudden, rapid, weight loss does not occur.

One form of Orlistat, Alli, is available now in the UK over the counter as a weight loss aid, but one of the potential side effects that occur is loose, oily stools if the overall fat intake is not reduced. The issue here, particularly for children, is that anti-obesity drugs are not the sole answer; they need to be used as part of a comprehensive weight-loss programme which includes both exercise and good nutrition.


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