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Canadian Overweight Chilren Take More Precription Drugs: Study

Update Date: Oct 06, 2012 12:22 PM EDT

A new study suggests that obese and overweight children are much more likely to take prescription medicines, when compared to children of normal weight. According to new research from the University of Alberta, the issue concerns the already high health care cost involved in the treatment of obese children.

For the study, researchers from the School of Public Health analyzed the medication use of 2,000 plus children from Canada between the year 2007 and 2009, data collected from Canadian Health Measures Survey.

The researchers found that obese children aged between 12 and 19 years were 59 percent more likely to take prescription medication, when compared to children of normal weight.

According to co-author Christina Fung, the expenditures on prescription drugs has doubled in the last 10 years and now accounts for 17 percent of health-care costs in Canada--the second highest after hospital expenses, Medical Xpress reported.

She said, having a complete picture of expense would help government direct their spending more effectively.

"Overweight and obese patients are more expensive to the health-care system in terms of using medication and prescription drugs," she said. "In Canada, we have a public health-care system, and this is an issue of accountability and where health-care dollars are spent, and when."

Another revelation of the study was that obese children are more likely to take medication for respiratory problems such as asthama.

Co-author Paul Veugelers, Canada Research Chair in Population Health, says that these finding show that the government needs to take a step towards prevention. In the last 25 years, three times more number of obese children in Canada and at present there are an estimated 34 percent children aged between 2 and 17 who are either obese or overweight.

"By investing in prevention in kids-promotion of healthy eating and active living-there's an immediate payback in terms of health-care costs," said

Veugelers, a professor and director of the Population Health Intervention Research Unit that works with the Alberta Project Promoting active Living and healthy Eating (APPLE Schools).

"Children who are not overweight are less likely to develop diabetes, or 30 to 40 years later get a heart attack or end up with cancer. Forty years from now you see a real return in terms of health-care costs."

The findings of the study showed that there was hardly any difference in medication use among children aged between 6 and 11.

Veugelers said, that this could mean that children need to be physically active and follow a healthy lifestyle before they are prescribed any sort of medication.

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