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Metformin Improves BMI and Blood Glucose Levels in Obese Children

First evidence that front-line diabetes drug delays onset of type 2 diabetes in children (Dec. 10)

Metformin therapy has a beneficial treatment effect over placebo in improving the body mass index (BMI) and fasting glucose levels in obese children, according to a new study accepted for publication in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. The study showed that the reduction in BMI was sustained for 6 months.

Childhood obesity has increased globally over the last two decades, and it is linked to an increase in the diagnosis of type 2 diabetes in childhood — previously a condition that was diagnosed only in adults.

Metformin is a first-line drug for type 2 diabetes that has been used for decades. In adults, metformin delays the onset of type 2 diabetes, but there is no evidence that the drug has a similar effect in children.

“Our findings provide evidence that a treatment course of metformin is clinically useful, safe, and well-tolerated in obese children who are at risk for type 2 diabetes,” said lead author Deborah Kendall, MD. "Metformin may also provide a stimulus for lifestyle changes and may potentially reduce long-term risk for type 2 diabetes and its associated health problems.”

The prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted at pediatric endocrine centers in the U.K. and involved 151 obese children and young people with hyperinsulinemia and/or impaired fasting glucose or impaired glucose tolerance. The study participants received either metformin or placebo daily for 6 months.

“Our results show that metformin can improve BMI and blood glucose levels in obese children, but longer-term effects, such as a reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes, need further study,” Kendall noted.

Source: The Endocrine Society; December 10, 2012.

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