A California study that tracked 77 obese adolescents for almost two years indicates that metformin XR, an extended-release version of the popular anti-diabetic drug, may help lower body mass index in overweight teens who do not have diabetes.
The change in BMI, although not dramatic, was statistically significant. The findings could point the way to the use of metformin in treating adolescent obesity, a condition that sharply increases teens’ potential for developing type 2 diabetes.
The study was undertaken by researchers at Stanford University and the Lucile S. Packard Children’s Hospital in California and by members of the Glaser Pediatric Research Network Obesity Study Group, a clinical research network. Conducting a lifestyle intervention program that stressed increased physical activity and careful diet, the researchers assigned daily 2,000 mg doses of metformin XR to 39 obese adolescents and a placebo to 38 others for 48 weeks. The teens were ages 13 to 18. The scientists found that after 52 weeks, the patients on metformin XR had an average 0.9 decrease in their BMI. The patients on the placebo had an average BMI increase of 0.2.
The effects of the treatment, which the researchers tracked an additional 48 weeks after discontinuing the drugs, lasted up to 24 weeks before the BMI differences in the two patient groups began narrowing.
The researchers, who published their results in the February 2010 issue of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, concluded that although their study sample was too small to issue a definitive opinion about metformin XR as a treatment for obesity, it opens the door to larger studies involving the drug. One advantage, they pointed out, was that the patients tolerated metformin XR well-a finding that accords with researchers’ and doctors’ experiences with the drug over the years.
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Medication May Help Decrease BMI in Obese Adolescents