Obese Kids Take More Rx Medications

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Overweight and obese children use prescription medications at higher rates than their normal weight peers, according to the results of a study published in the September 2012 edition of Archives of Disease in Childhood.

The researchers drew data from the Canadian Health Measures Survey 2007-2009, a nationally representative cross-sectional survey sample. Their analysis included 2087 participants aged 6 to 19 years and looked at the association between participants’ weight status and the number of prescription, OTC, and natural health product (NHP) medications they had taken in the previous month.

The results showed that for those aged 6 to 11 years, frequency of medication use did not differ in any of the 3 categories between normal weight and overweight or obese children. However, among those aged 12 to 19 years, overweight and obese participants used prescription medications 59% more frequently than normal weight participants and used NHP medications 48% less frequently.

In addition, overweight and obese participants used nervous system and respiratory medications (particularly those for obstructive airway conditions) more frequently than normal weight participants. Based on their results, the researchers estimate that 14% of drug expenditures for those aged 12 to 19 years can be attributed to overweight and obesity.