Overweight Canadian Teens More Likely to Need Prescription Medication

Youth ages 12 to 19 who are overweight or obese were found to use significantly more prescription medications.

It’s a common misconception that overweight or obese kids won’t suffer any negative health effects until late adulthood. Sadly, this is not the case.

Recently, researchers measured medication use in 2,087 Canadian children aged 6 to 19. No differences in medication use existed between normal weight and overweight or obese children up to the age of 11; however, youth aged 12 to 19 who were overweight or obese were found to use significantly more prescription medications. To be precise, they were 59 percent more likely to take medication.

So what?
This research tells us a few different things. For starters, overweight or obese teens put strain on the Canadian health care system, not only in terms of medication, but also in future hospital visits and medical care due to obesity-related illnesses. And clearly, young people are even seeing the effects of obesity, from needing more prescription medications.

The study also concluded that “differential usage of prescription drugs among overweight/obese children underline the need to develop effective obesity prevention programmes and policies that may reduce the health and economic burden of childhood obesity.”

What about natural health products?
The study also measured kids’ use of natural health products. This category includes everything from multivitamins to omega-3 supplements. Many more teens of normal weight took natural health products, while fewer overweight or obese teens did. The study abstract didn’t explain why this is, but it’s an interesting tidbit of information.

Reduce the risk of childhood obesity
It’s estimated that 34 percent of Canadian children and teens are either overweight or obese. That’s over one-third! The following articles and blog posts offer tips for reducing the risk of childhood and teenage obesity:

  • “Electronic kids”
  • “The obesity epidemic”
  • “Let the kids play”
  • “Eating at home prevents obesity: new study”
  • “Kids in the kitchen=healthy kids”


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