A recent Wall Street Journal article gives us all a reason to worry. Studies show that more than 25% of kids and teens in the U.S. take prescription medication on a regular basis. Although these medications range from the more familiar ADD and asthma treatments, a significant percentage of children are currently on statins, diabetes pills, and sleep drugs. Prescriptions for antihypertensives in people age 19 and younger could hit 5.5 million this year if the trend continues – a 17% increase from 2007!
The increase in overweight and obese children has led to a drastic upswing of obesity-related diseases such as type two diabetes and high blood pressure. Unfortunately, a record-high number of parents and children are turning to drugs to treat symptoms rather than engage in prevention-based efforts to lower weight through diet and exercise. It seems as if parents are brushing off the consequences of their children being overweight. Rather than encourage lifestyle changes and non-drug alternatives, an increasing number of adults see prescription meds as the answer to a healthy child.
Most drug trials are carried out with adult participants, so dosage and directions can vary when a still-developing child is the patient. Side effects and long term complications remain unclear because the phenomenon of kids taking these types of drugs simply had not been considered until recently. Are we putting our children in danger by enabling prescription drug use among such a high number of youth today? How can we more effectively tackle the issue at hand?