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Letter of the Week: Joan Hoover Says Amphetamines Should Not Be Prescribed to Stop Onset of Type 2 in Overweight Children

May 22, 2008

Patient advocacy advisor and frequent contributor to Diabetes Health, Joan Hoover, adds her opinion to the discussion of whether Adderall should be used to help obese children avoid developing type 2 diabetes.

Editor's Note: This week's letter is from Joan Hoover, one of our favorite and most outspoken board members. Joan is also our patient advocate advisor. She is a tireless diabetes educator and advocate for people's access to clear, accurate, and unbiased information about the disease. When Joan speaks, we sit up and listen! Her letter is addressed to Editor-in-Chief Scott King and Diabetes Health pharmacy advisory board member R. Keith Campbell. Campbell had commented favorably on news that a doctor had successfully treated obesity in children by prescribing amphetamines.

The article to which Joan is responding discussed the growing problem of teenage obesity. Not only does obesity make teens susceptible to type 2 diabetes, but it's also very hard on the teens themselves. They are often bullied or ostracized because of their weight.

One physician has found success with such patients by prescribing off-label Adderall, an amphetamine that's meant to be used for attention-deficit disorder. Dr. Fuad Ziai, a pediatric endocrinologist, has prescribed Adderall to over 800 overweight children and teens, more than ninety percent of whom have lost weight. He believes that the drug, combined with Glucophage, has helped the children avoid type 2 diabetes, and he believes that there was no other option.

A sidebar in the article printed excerpts from Scott King’s video interview on DiabetesHealthTV with Keith Campbell, RPh, CDE, about the use of amphetamines to help children lose weight. Keith had a surprising opinion; he said that if the beneficial impact of the drug greatly outweighs its side effects, then we should be willing to explore its potential.

And now, here is Joan Hoover’s letter:

Dear Scott and Keith:

You have GOT to be kidding!

Are you really suggesting that we take a chubby diabetic kid and turn him into a skinny drug addict? Dealing with his addiction will certainly take his mind off the problems of coping with his diabetes... and probably everything else.

Of course if he were very, very careful with the dosage and the timing and kept everything in exquisite balance... just maybe. Adolescents are known to be so good at that sort of thing, right? On the other hand, he might just drive his car at 100 miles per hour into a tree – but at least he'd be thin.

As for there being "no other option," that's just not true. Diet and exercise have proven to work much better than anything else. That translates into less junk food and fewer video games, which is without question hard work and much less fun than illegal drugs. But the bottom line is that he will actually get to grow up and have a LIFE! For the rest of his days he will be able to look back and be sure he made a very good choice.

Joan Hoover,
Patient Advocacy Advisor
Frequent contributor to Diabetes Health.


Categories: Amphetamines, Diabetes, Diabetes, Food, Letters to the Editor, Losing weight, Type 2 Issues, Type 2 Medications



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