Overweight Teens Taking More Meds

Teens who were overweight took more prescription medications than average weight teens

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Kids and teens who are overweight may face other health issues. A recent study found that overweight teens were also more likely to be taking prescription drugs.

In the study, teens were more likely to have taken prescription medications in the last month than average weight teens. Teens who are overweight may have more health costs from medications.

Programs to help teens manage a healthy weight are needed to help improve overall health.

"Talk with your child about healthy weight loss goals."

Stefan Kuhle, PhD, of the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta in Canada, and colleagues used data from the Canadian Health Measures Survey, which is a database of health usage in Canada.

They looked at the records of 2,087 children and teens between the ages of 6- and 19-years-old. They split them into two groups: kids (ages 6 to 11) and teens (ages 12 to 19).

Twenty-three percent of kids in the study were overweight or obese, and 28% of teens were overweight or obese.

Being overweight was defined as a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 25. Obesity was defined as a BMI over 30.

They looked at the medications used by the kids and teens within the past month. They looked at over-the-counter medications, prescriptions and natural health products, such as herbal supplements.

They found there was no difference in medication use for kids who were overweight or obese compared to average weight kids.

However, teens who were overweight or obese used prescription medications more often in the past month than average weight teens.

Additionally, teens who were overweight or obese were  less likely to be taking a natural health product.

The authors concluded that teens with weight issues are more likely to have additional medication costs – along with other health conditions that often accompany being overweight.

They say this finding highlights one more reason to have programs for teens who struggle with their weight. Programs would help to improve overall health and lower the family’s financial burden.

This study was published in September in the Archives of Disease in Childhood. The project was funded by the Canada Research Chair in Population Health and Alberta Innovates Health Solutions Health Scholarship.

The authors report no competing interests.

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Review Date: 
October 9, 2012
Last Updated:
October 14, 2012