Redefining juvenile obesity

Janet Babin Jun 16, 2006

TEXT OF STORY

TESS VIGELAND: The number of kids considered medically obese has tripled in the past quarter century. Now a new classification of who’s fat could push even more kids into that category. An article in today’s British Medical Journal suggests the reclassification would help drug companies and humiliate kids. Janet Babin reports.


JANET BABIN: The American Medical Association is tinkering with the definition of childhood obesity. But Dr. Terrill Bravender with Duke University Medical Center says the term has always been ambiguous:

DR. TERRILL BRAVENDER: We don’t have a very good idea as to what level of overweight or obesity begins to confer more health risk.

Experts in the BMJ article say an expanded classification of who’s fat would sell a lot more obesity drugs. But those drugs have had only limited success and only one is approved for kids.

Les Funtleyder is an analyst with Miller Tabak:

LES FUNTLEYDER: I’m not sure even if the definition of childhood obesity got expanded that there would be a rush to use these drugs in children.

Because of nasty side effects, like diarrhea.

Still, anti-obesity drug sales topped $240 million last year according to Industry consultant IMS Health.

I’m Janet Babin for Marketplace.

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