The number of people under the age of 18 on anti-obesity drugs has risen 15-fold in the UK over the last 10 years, research has shown.
However, most stop taking the drug before they see any real benefit. An estimated 1,300 young people could be being prescribed anti-obesity drugs every year, according to the data. The drugs are only licensed for use in adults, so family doctors are prescribing them off-licence.
The study focused on the use of orlistat (Xenical), sibutramine (Reductil) and rimonabant (Acomplia) in children up to the age of 18 and the findings have been published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology.
The data from the UK General Practice Research Database showed that between the start of 1999 and the end of 2006 a total of 452 youngsters received 1,334 prescriptions. The prevalence of drugs increased 15-fold among both boys and girls during this time.
“It’s possible that the drugs are being given inappropriately, or that they have excessive side effects that make young people discontinue their use,” said Russell Viner, one of the authors of the study. “On the other hand, they could be expecting the drugs to deliver a miracle “quick fix” and stop using them when sudden, rapid weight loss does not occur.”
Copyright Press Association 2009