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More Kids Taking Drugs to Combat Obesity-Related Illnesses, Analyses Say

From Jennifer Moore for SUGAR SHOCK! Blog

This SUGAR SHOCK! Blog recently posted on the startling new recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics that kids as young as eight be treated with statins to control high cholesterol.

Now, Stephanie Saul of the New York Times tells us of data from three organizations showing that the number of children taking drugs intended for adults is on the rise.

Childhood obesity accounts for much of this unfortunate phenomenon. For example, according to an analysis by Medco Solutions, a pharmacy benefit management firm, the number of American kids taking oral diabetes medications spiked an amazing 150% between 2001 and 2007. (Goodness, that’s awful.)

Times reporter Saul also reports that pharmacy benefit management company Express Scripts finds an increase of 15% of drugs to reduce cholesterol and other blood fat levels in children, while health care data company Verispan reveals a 13% increase in high blood pressure drug prescriptions in youth under 19 from 2005 to 2007.

The thought of children taking adult drugs to fight conditions due to obesity both alarms and saddens me. For starters, how do we know that these powerful medications are even safe for such young bodies? Sounds outrageous.

But an anecdote in Saul’s story told by Francine Kaufman, M.D., of the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles to a recent Senate subcommittee hearing on childhood obesity makes the impulse to resort to such measures more understandable. Dr. Kaufman told the tale of a 13-year-old girl whose weight exploded to 267 pounds.

“To control her high blood sugar level, her high blood pressure, and her high cholesterol, this young girl left my office with five medications,” Dr. Kaufman said, according to Saul.

Dr. Kaufman also said that lifestyle changes are the first line of defense but don’t always work; some of her patients live in poor areas without access to healthy foods in grocery stores and many attend schools that don’t provide physical education for their students.

This all points out how critical it is that we work our hardest to prevent childhood obesity. This also illustrates how badly we’ve failed to do that so far. Adults everywhere, from parents up to the highest levels of government need to wake up now, because our kids are paying a very high price for that failure.

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