MONDAY, Feb. 1 (HealthDay News) -- A medication used to treat type 2 diabetes appears to help overweight teenagers lose weight when combined with a program 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.
Researchers enrolled 77 fat adolescents, aged 13 to 18, in a program 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."
SOURCE: American Medical Association, Feb. 1, 2010