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Medication use in normal weight and overweight children in a nationally representative sample of Canadian children
  1. Stefan Kuhle,
  2. Christina Fung,
  3. Paul J Veugelers
  1. School of Public Health, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
  1. Correspondence to Dr Paul J Veugelers, School of Public Health, University of Alberta, 350 University Terrace, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, T6G 2T4; paul.veugelers{at}


Background As overweight and obese children are more likely to develop serious medical conditions, they incur higher doctor and hospital costs compared to their normal weight counterparts. Consequently, the differential healthcare costs between obese and normal weight children may be even greater if medication use is considered.

Objective To compare medication use between normal weight and overweight children in a nationally representative sample from Canada.

Methods Data from the Canadian Health Measures Survey 2007/2009, a cross-sectional survey assessing indicators of health and wellness in Canadians, was used in the current study. The analysis included 2087 children and adolescents between 6–19 years of age with valid measures of body mass index (BMI). Poisson/negative binomial regression was used to examine the association between weight status and the number of medications taken in the last month.

Result For 6–11 year olds, the frequency of prescription, over-the-counter and natural health product (NHP) medication use did not differ between normal weight and overweight/obese children. For 12–19 year olds, overweight/obese children used prescription medication significantly more often than their normal weight peers (adjusted incidence rate ratio (IRR), 1.59; 95% CI 1.19 to 2.14), whereas for NHP the opposite was the case (adjusted IRR, 0.52; 95% CI 0.32 to 0.82). These children also used nervous system and respiratory medications more frequently than their normal weight peers.

Conclusion The findings of the present study suggest that the differential usage of prescription drugs among overweight/obese children underline the need to develop effective obesity prevention programmes and policies that may reduce the health and economic burden of childhood obesity.

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