Obese adolescents who are treated with metformin may experience initial benefits but not over the long-term, research shows.
Metformin is a first-line drug treatment for type 2 diabetes, helping to lower blood sugar levels. The drug has also been associated with short-term weight loss in young people in other trials.
A team from the St Antonius Hospital in Nieuwegei, the Netherlands, wanted to explore the subject further.
They prescribed 31 adolescents metformin, of which 84% were obese and 45% had developed insulin resistance. The team also studied a further 20 teenagers who were not given the drug.
The findings showed the participants who were given metformin initially improved their body mass index (BMI) and insulin resistance, but after three years the changes had not remained.
The researchers concluded that there is “no evidence for sustained effect after prolonged use in adolescents”.
Yvette Lentferink, from the hospital’s department of paediatrics, said: “Studies on the efficacy of metformin in adolescents are predominantly limited to a follow-up period of 6 months.
“Only a few studies have been performed with a longer follow-up period with a maximum up to 24 months. Consequently, it is unclear whether prolonged metformin treatment in adolescents will result in long-lasting positive effects on weight.”
The study team added that the findings contradict studies in non-diabetic adults where metformin led to sustained weight loss. They explained this could be due to limited compliance and/or insufficient dose.
The results appear online in the journal Nature.
In adults with type 2 diabetes, research is showing that eating a healthy, real-food diet can put the condition into remissio, meaning people can be free from diabetes medication. Visit our Low Carb Program for further details.

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