Research shows that the diabetes drug metformin has small but not significant weight loss benefits for overweight children.
The research was carried out at the Oregon Health and Science University in the US and reviewed 14 different studies which had investigated the use of metformin in addition to lifestyle changes in overweight children without diabetes compared with lifestyle interventions alone.
Metformin is a type 2 diabetes medication that helps to improve sensitivity to insulin and can help decrease appetite which provide modest weight loss benefits.
The studies included 946 children from a range of countries including in North American, Europen, Mexico, Iran and Australia. The children were aged between 10 and 16 years old and had body mass indices (BMIs) which varied between 26 (overweight) and 41 (extreme obesity).
The results showed that use of metformin with lifestyle changes enabled children to achieve a 3.6% reduction in BMI over a 6 month period compared with lifestyle changes alone.
Whilst metformin showed signs of success at 6 months, after 12 months, weight loss was the same for metformin and lifestyle and lifestyle only groups. The research also showed that a year after studies ended, the children had put the weight back on.
The researchers note that metformin appears not to show significant signs of success, citing that research has shown a 5% to 10% decrease in BMI is required for long term improvements in health in adults.
The study highlights the problems children are facing with losing weight in the obesogenic environment of the moder, developed world. The research team are interested in following up the study by focusing on interventions that involve the whole family as lifestyle interventions are harder for individuals to maintain when their close environment is still largely unhealthy.

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