Survey of antiobesity drug prescribing for obese children and young people in UK primary care

Billy White, Yingfen Hsia, Sanjay Kinra, Sonia Saxena, Deborah Christie, Russell M Viner, Ian C K Wong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
117 Downloads (Pure)


bjectives Antiobesity drug (AOD) prescribing in children and young people (CYP) in primary care is rising with high rates of discontinuation. Little is known about prescribing in this group in terms of patient demographics and comorbidities, reasons for initiation and discontinuation, or adherence to national guidelines. Design Questionnaire survey to general practitioners (GPs) identified using a nationally representative primary care database covering 6% of UK population. Setting UK-wide primary care. Participants Patients were eligible if prescribed an AOD aged ≤18 years between 2010 and 2012. A total of 151 patients from 108 unique practices were identified via national prescribing database, with responses for 119 patients (79%) from 84 practices; 94 of 119 (79%) were eligible for inclusion. Primary and secondary outcomes Survey of GP prescribing habits of AODs to CYP. We audited orlistat usage against the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance. Results 47% were prescribed metformin, 59% orlistat and 5% both drugs. Orlistat was largely prescribed by GPs independently (49/55 prescriptions, 89%) and metformin by GPs on specialist recommendation (12/44, 27%). Orlistat was largely prescribed in those over 16 years of age without physical comorbidities. Metformin was initiated for treatment of polycystic ovarian syndrome (70%), insulin resistance (25%) and impaired glucose control (9%). Median supply of metformin was 10.5 months (IQR 4–18.5 months) and 2.0 months (1.0–4.0) for orlistat (p≤0.001). Drug terminations were largely due to families not requesting repeat prescriptions. NICE guidance adherence was low; 17% of orlistat prescriptions were initiated by specialists, and 56% had evidence of obesity-related comorbidity. GPs reported lower confidence in prescribing AOD to CYP compared with adults (10-point Likert score median 3 vs 8, p<0.001). Conclusions Prescribing of AOD in primary care is challenging with low adherence to NICE guidance. Further work is needed to better support GPs in the use of AOD in CYP.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBMJ Paediatrics Open
Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2017


Dive into the research topics of 'Survey of antiobesity drug prescribing for obese children and young people in UK primary care'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this