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Metformin might not be Effective in Obese Teens with Type 1 Diabetes, Study Finds

Update Date: Dec 02, 2015 04:56 PM EST

Metformin, a popular treatment for people with type 2 diabetes, is not an effective option for teenagers who are overweight or obese and have type 1 diabetes, a new study reported.

For this study, the research team headed by Kellee Miller at the Jaeb Center for Health Research in Florida, set out to examine the effects of metformin on type 1 diabetics. Results from previous studies have been inconclusive.

Metformin is a pill that can reduce blood sugar. Since the body does not produce insulin in type 1 diabetes, people with this form of diabetes need to take supplemental insulin. When the patient is overweight or obese, however, they end up needing higher levels of insulin, which can then hinder their blood sugar control.

"Being overweight or obese with type 1 diabetes has potentially serious metabolic consequences, especially for adolescents," study author Kristen J. Nadeau, MD explained reported in the press release. "They are at higher risk for insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death for type 1 patients. While metformin did not improve glycemic control in this study population, its effect on improving cardiovascular risk factors makes it a potential resource for tackling the ongoing obesity epidemic."

The team recruited 140 type 1 diabetic patients who were either overweight or obese. They were between the ages of 12 and 19. The participants were randomly assigned to the placebo (control) group or the metformin (experimental) group for half a year. They continued taking their insulin throughout the study.

The researchers found that metformin did not improve the teenagers' blood sugar control when compared to the teenagers who took a placebo. Teenagers from the metformin group, however, experienced more gastrointestinal side effects. These teens also had evidence of improved insulin sensitivity and had experienced weight loss.

The team concluded that metformin should not be prescribed to overweight/obese teenagers with type 1 diabetes. Experts noted that more studies should be conducted.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

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