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Study: Spike in Obesity-related Prescriptions for Children

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Study: Spike in Obesity-related Prescriptions for Children

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A new study published in the medical journal Pediatrics showed that drug prescriptions for children and teens for obesity-related illnesses, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes, has seen a sharp increase in the last years.

Researchers at St. Louis University studied the 2002-2005 prescription records of about four million children per year between ages five to 19.

The study revealed the following:

  • There was a 15.4% increase in the use of blood pressure medications for males aged 15 to 19.
  • Overweight children were twice as likely as those of normal weight to develop diabetes.
  • Girls aged 10 to 14 showed a 166% increase in the use of type 2 diabetes medications.
  • The rate of boys taking diabetes medications grew 39%.

In addition to the increases in obesity-related illness, the study recorded increases in prescriptions for asthma and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).

“‘We’ve got a lot of sick children,’ says author Emily Cox, senior director of research with Express Scripts, which administers drug benefit programs for private insurance plans. ‘What we’ve been seeing in adults, we’re also now seeing in kids’” (USA Today).

Ms. Cox added, “Unless these children make major changes—such as eating healthier and exercising more—they could be facing a lifetime of illness” (ibid.).

“These are not antibiotics that they take for seven to 10 days,” she said. “These are drugs that many are taking for the rest of their lives.”

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