TUESDAY, Feb 5 (HealthDay News) -- The drug Byetta, approved for adults with type 2 diabetes, appears to help severely obese teens lose some weight, a small study found.
Researchers assigned 26 teens, ages 12 to 19, either to injections of Byetta (exenatide) or placebo injections twice daily. After three months, those who got the drug had a nearly 3 percent greater reduction in their body mass index (BMI, a measure of height versus weight) compared to those on placebo.
However, that difference remains "modest," said researcher Aaron Kelly, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Minnesota Medical School and Amplatz Children's Hospital.
"We are not proposing this be prescribed clinically," he said. The study was small, only lasted six months and more study is needed, he added.
According to Kelly, Byetta may only be another tool to help the 4 percent to 6 percent of U.S. children and teens who are severely obese. "It's ultimately going to take more than one medication," he said. "It's going to take combinations of medication."
The new research was published online Feb. 4 in JAMA Pediatrics.
While some research suggests that the levels of obesity, overall, in children and teens may be leveling off, "we think severe obesity is the fastest growing subcategory," Kelly noted. A BMI of 35 or more is considered severely obese. An example would be a teenage boy of average height who weighs 220 pounds, experts say.
Children like these may begin to face serious health risks. "Severe obesity, even in children, is associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes," Kelly said. Typically, lifestyle advice to exercise more and reduce portion sizes has not worked well in teens who are severely obese, he added.
His team decided to look at Byetta because it has been shown to reduce body weight in adults with type 2
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