Diet Pill for Children and Teens: Is Xenical Good or Bad?

Diet Pill for Kids? Do you know that there is a diet pill for children and teens? When we first learned about this our immediate reaction went like, “Oh come on now silly people, kids should not be popping diet pills! What they should be doing if they want to lose weight is to exercise, exercise, exercise and to eat healthy food! They have fast metabolism, what do they need diet pills for?”

That’s our kneejerk reaction. But upon further reflection we went, “Hmmmm. Maybe we should give this the benefit of the doubt? Maybe there are instances where a teenager or a kid really needs diet pills and that they are apt for his/her condition?”

The drug, Xenical, was approved for adolescents in 2003. Here’s CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta writing about the diet pill after it was green-lighted by the Food and Drug Administration:

And now our quick-fix society has come up with a pill for the problem: Xenical, the first obesity drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for adolescents.

One of several medications on the market that limit the body’s ability to digest fat, Xenical (also called orlistat) was approved for adults in 1999. In fact, it was the FDA that originally encouraged Xenical’s manufacturer, Hoffman-La Roche, to study its effectiveness in the pediatric population.

The company selected 357 obese kids ages 12 to 16 and put them on both Xenical and a low-fat diet. As a control, 182 equally overweight teens were put on the same diet and a placebo. At the end of the study, the Xenical children had lower body-mass indexes than the controls did and had gained less weight, even during the growth spurts of adolescence.

While the drug may help some kids, compliance might not be easy. Because the pill works by blocking an enzyme that absorbs fat, there can be embarrassing consequences — including gas, diarrhea and incontinence for kids who dip into fatty treats.

Many teens would rather give up Xenical than ice cream. And because it costs $1,500 a year, their parents may be similarly inclined. Xenical was only moderately effective when it was tested on adults; after treatment stopped, the pounds tended to return.

Is Xenical safe for kids and teens and does it really work as a weight-loss drug? According to the FDA, it’s safety and effectiveness have not been established for children under 12 years of age. More info from the Xenical Labeling Information approved by the agency(PDF File):

Pediatric Use: Safety and effectiveness in pediatric patients below the age of 12 have not been established.

The safety and efficacy of XENICAL have been evaluated in obese adolescent patients aged 12 to 16 years. Use of XENICAL in this age group is supported by evidence from adequate and well-controlled studies of XENICAL in adults with additional data from a 54-week efficacy and safety study and a 21-day mineral balance study in obese adolescent patients aged 12 to 16 years.

Patients treated with XENICAL in the 54-week efficacy and safety study (64.8% female, 75% Caucasians, 18.8% Blacks, and 6.3% Other) had a mean reduction in BMI of 0.55 kg/m2 compared with an average increase of 0.31 kg/m2 in placebo-treated patients (p=0.001).

In both adolescent studies, adverse effects were generally similar to those described in adults and included fatty/oily stool, oily spotting, and oily evacuation.

It is important to note that during the abovementioned study, the participants lost weight not only because of the diet pill they were popping in. The fact of the matter is that THEY WERE ALSO MADE TO EAT A WELL-BALANCED, REDUCED CALORIE DIET.

In other words, Xenical alone will not magically solve your weight issues, you must also observe dietary and lifestyle changes in your life in order for the drug to be effective. In addition, you must also take in multi-vitamins to ensure adequate nutrition.

What are the side effects of the drug? The common side effects are (via

  • oily spotting in your undergarments;
  • oily or fatty stools;
  • orange or brown colored oil in your stool;
  • gas with discharge, an oily discharge;
  • loose stools, or an urgent need to go to the bathroom, inability to control bowel movements;
  • an increased number of bowel movements;
  • stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, rectal pain; or
  • weakness, dark urine, clay-colored stools, itching, loss of appetite, or jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

Less common side effects include:

  • problems with your teeth or gums;
  • cold symptoms such as stuffy nose, sneezing, cough;
  • fever, chills, sore throat, flu symptoms;
  • headache, back pain; or
  • mild skin rash.

Meanwhile, here are some serious side effects:

  • severe pain in your lower back, blood in your urine;
  • urinating less than usual or not at all;
  • drowsiness, confusion, mood changes, increased thirst;
  • swelling, weight gain, feeling short of breath;
  • severe pain in your upper stomach spreading to your back, nausea and vomiting, fast heart rate; or
  • nausea, itching, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

If you feel any of the above serious side effects, you SHOULD STOP USING XENICAL AND CALL YOUR DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY.

NOTE: You need a prescription from a doctor before you should use Xenical.

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