|Photo to illustrate rise in youth obesity. September 20,2012 (QMI Agency/ERROL MCGIHON) |
A study released by the University of Alberta has shown a link between childhood obesity and increased prescription drug use.
The study found that obese children between the ages of 12 to 19 were 59% more likely to require the use of prescription or over-the-counter drugs than their normal-weighted peers.
"With higher health-care costs, this emphasizes the need for ... obesity prevention programs," said Christine Fung, the co-author of the study. "If you establish healthy habits at an early age, there are returns when you get older."
It's something that Fung said was not surprising as there is an increased level of risk for allergies and asthma in obese children.
Fung says the study could shed a light on the economic strain obesity is putting on the health-care system.
"We're hoping that this gives policy makers a better picture of the impact that obesity is having on the health-care system," she said.
"If 14% of drug use among kids is due to obesity, prevention then equates to real savings."
And the savings could be big, Fund said, adding that currently obesity-related illnesses have a yearly impact of $6 billion on the health-care system.
Moving forward, Fung hopes that the study will increase awareness for programs offered by the university like its Alberta Project Promoting active Living and healthy Eating.
The program, dubbed APPLE Schools, motivates change by improving learning and health in 40 schools across northern Alberta.
"(This program) would reduce the negative health affects on the child," she said.
"But it would also reduce the economic strain on the health-care system."
Did you find what you were looking for on our website? Please let us know.