Putting on the Breaks

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Because of the obesity epidemic in this country, the disease formerly called “adult-onset” diabetes is no longer given that label. Type 2 diabetes, we have learned, is fair game for people of all ages.

For adolescents with type 2 diabetes, a popular type 2 drug may interrupt the cycle of weight gain and insulin resistance that leads to the disease.

According to the April issue of Pediatrics, researchers at the departments of Pediatrics and Cell Biology at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina say Glucophage, manufactured by Bristol-Myers Squibb, might “complement the effects of dietary and exercise counseling and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes in selected patients.”

Glucophage, which works by making the body more responsive to insulin, was used in a study that consisted of 29 white and black adolescents ages 12 to 19 years. All adolescents in the study had a body mass index of 30 or greater, meaning that they were considered very overweight. Patients received either Glucophage in 500-mg doses twice daily or a placebo for six months.

The Glucophage group, it was discovered, had a 1.3 percent decline in body mass index, while the placebo group showed an increase of 2.3 percent. In addition, Glucophage caused a decline in fasting blood glucose from an average of 84.9 mg/dl to 75.1 mg/dl. The placebo group showed a fasting blood glucose increase from 77.2 mg/dl to 82.3 mg/dl. Also, insulin sensitivity increased in the Glucophage-treated group.

HbA1c was not affected in either the Glucophage or placebo group.

Glucophage caused diarrhea in 40 percent of the treated participants; however, there were no episodes of vomiting or lactic acidosis.

The authors of the study have called for further research.

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