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Growing numbers of kids 'given obesity drugs'

3rd September 2009

There has been a 15-fold increase in the number of young people receiving prescriptions for anti-obesity drugs in the UK over the last decade, research shows.

Some 1,300 young people are being prescribed off-licence anti-obesity drugs each year but many stop using them before they see any benefit, according to researchers from the University College London.

The study, published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, found that more than three-quarters of prescriptions were for orlistat, also known as Xenical or Alli.

Study author Russell Viner explained that it is possible the drugs are 'being given inappropriately'.

He said: 'On the other hand, they could be expecting the drugs to deliver a miracle "quick fix" and stop using them when sudden, rapid weight loss does not occur.'

Another contributing researcher Ian Wong explained that the side effects can be 'really unpleasant' if habits are not changed while taking the drug.

'The key thing is that the drug itself is not the answer,' he added.

Figures from the NHS indicate that in 2007, 17 per cent of boys and 16 per cent of girls aged between two and 15 years old were classed as obese.

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