ADHD Drugs for Obese Kids

Got noisy neighbors? Do they keep you awake at night with their incisive banjo playing? Here’s an idea, try taking a drug that lists hearing loss as a potential side effect, that’ll fix your problem in a jiff. Sounds pretty ridiculous, right? Not to one doctor, who prescribed an ADHD drug to a teenage patient who couldn’t lose weight. Why? Because the ADHD drug Adderall comes with a risk of weight loss—the teenager didn't even have ADHD! Elizabeth Cohen of CNN reports:
Their pediatrician didn't know either, so she referred Lisa and Hank Veith to Dr. Fuad Ziai, a pediatric endocrinologist in nearby Oak Lawn, Illinois. In the summer before Alex entered sixth grade, Ziai prescribed Adderall, an amphetamine used to treat attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. Alex didn't have ADHD, but one of the drug's common side effects is weight loss. And that's what happened to Alex.


"You should have seen everyone when I went back to school the next year. They didn't believe it was me," says Alex. "It was a great feeling to be a thin kid."

Ziai's approach to treating obesity -- he says he has prescribed Adderall for weight loss to about 800 children and teens -- raises an important ethical question: Has the obesity epidemic among children become so severe that it's OK to prescribe a drug not approved for weight loss when the drug can have serious, sometimes life-threatening side effects?

The Veiths say they'd give their son Adderall again. Now 17, Alex is a normal weight after being on the drug for more than four years -- from age 11 until about 18 months ago.
Now I’m no doctor, but treating patients with side effects seems crazy to me, especially when you consider all the issues surrounding the diagnosis of ADHD and the usage of ADHD drugs. Dr. Fuhrman discusses this in a previous post. From ADHD Over-Diagnosis and Treatment Options:
These medications with their reported adverse effects and potential dangers were simply unnecessary for so many children whom I have seen as patients. I have witnessed consistently positive results when these children followed my comprehensive program of nutritional excellence. The scientific studies lending support to a comprehensive nutritional approach to treating ADHD are ignored by physicians, and drugs are generally the only method offered.


Most new cases of ADHD are of the inattentive subtype. Inattentive ADHD are the children who have a short attention span, are easily distracted, and can appear to be a brain fog; they do not have hyperactivity. Research on the use of psychostimulants in these patients has shown high rate of nonresponders, and although medications showed a short-term decrease in symptoms, they did not improve grade point averages.2
Here’s a couple more posts on the topic:
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