Study: Diabetes medication may help decrease BMI in obese adolescents

NEW YORK A new study published in the February issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine found that a medication used to treat Type 2 diabetes appears to cause a small but significant decrease in body mass index in nondiabetic obese adolescents when combined with a lifestyle intervention program.

Darrell M. Wilson, M.D., of Stanford University and the Lucile S. Packard Children's Hospital of Stanford, Calif., and colleagues in the Glaser Pediatric Research Network Obesity Study Group randomly assigned 77 obese adolescents (ages 13 to 18 years) to a lifestyle intervention program (consisting of physical activity and diet) and either one daily dose of metformin XR (2,000 milligrams) (39 patients) or placebo (38 patients) for 48 weeks. Participants were monitored for an additional 48 weeks.

"Metformin XR had a small but statistically significant impact on BMI over the initial 52 weeks of the study," the authors wrote, adding that the average BMI increased by 0.2 in the placebo group and decreased by 0.9 in the metformin XR group. "The BMI difference between the groups persisted for 12 to 24 weeks after cessation of study drug. Thereafter, the mean [average] BMI in the metformin group increased toward that in the control group.

"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 added. "Longer-term studies will be needed to define the effects of metformin treatment on obesity-related disease risk in this population."

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