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Medications for Obesity in Children

Author: Dr. Ran Goldman, Chief Medical Officer, MedSchoolForParents.com
Where everything else (physical activity, diet and lifestyle change) fails, obesity can sometimes be treated with medications. These are not dietary supplements or a special diet, we are talking about medication that in some countries need prescription and that was studied well and was approved by the food and drug administration. In extreme obesity in adolescents your doctor may suggest it is appropriate to receive medications for the treatment of obesity.
When a proper diet, exercise, and lifestyle programme of at least a year in length has not helped a very obese child, then doctors may recommend the addition of a medication to help these efforts. This may also be considered in children with certain health problems that are linked to obesity.
There are multiple medications that adults may take but the FDA has approved only one medication called orlistat to be used in children older than 12 years. This drug works in the gut by altering the amount of fat that the body absorbs, allowing about 1/3 of it to pass through.
The drug is a derivative of natural substance in our body, lipstatin, that blocks enzymes used to break fat in the diet, and is secreted from the pancreas. Orlistat is much more stable and became the drug.
The effect of the drug in children is modest. It should definitely not be used without continuing significant effort to modify diet for the whole family as well physical activity.
This medication is not without side-effects; must commonly diarrhea, stomach discomfort, and excess gas. Despite being available over-the-counter in the US, Australia and some of Europe; it should only be used with the help of medical professionals. Children should be monitored carefully by a physician while on this medication and will likely require some vitamin supplements.
While it is true that our children come in all shapes and sizes, there are some serious health problems that can result from obesity. Lifestyle modification with an early intervention is the safest and most rewarding approach.
Updated 03/08/2017



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