Diabetes drug Byetta may help obese teens lose weight

Byetta, a diabetes drug normally given to adult diabetics, has been shown to help obese teens lose weight.

A small study funded by the University of Minnesota found that modest reduction of BMI was a side effect of teens who received injections of Byetta.

Weight loss medication?

Researchers analyzed 26 teens, ages 12 to 19, who were either given Byetta injections or placebo injections twice a day for three months.

At the end of the study period, teens taking the drug were found to have a 3 percent higher reduction in body mass index than the teens who were given the placebo.

And while the results are encouraging, researcher Aaron Kelly--assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Minnesota Medical School and Amplatz Children's Hospital--says that more research is needed.

"We are not proposing this be prescribed clinically," he said. "The study was small, only lasted six months and more study is needed."

Obesity a growing problem for teens

Kelly notes that severe obesity is "the fastest growing subcategory" of obesity in teens, and it's marked by having a BMI of over 35.

Byetta had been shown to help adults with type 2 diabetes lose weight, but Kelly says that obese teens might require more than just one medication to help them with weight loss.

At the end of the three-month study period, the teens who had taken the placebo were given the option to take Byetta for three additional months, while those teens in the group receiving Byetta injections could continue using the drug for another three months. At the end of the six month study period, teens who had taken Byetta the entire time had lost about 4 percent more weight than the other group.

Kelly and his team plan to study other types of drugs in the same class, with the hopes that others might produce better results.

The study is published online in JAMA Pediatrics.

Source: US News Health

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