CONTEXT: The efficacy and safety of metformin for obesity in children and adolescents remains unclear.
OBJECTIVE: To assess the efficacy and safety of metformin via systematic review.
DATA SOURCES: Data sources included PubMed, Embase, the Cochrane Library, Scopus, and ClincalTrials.gov (inception to November 2019).
STUDY SELECTION: We selected randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in which researchers assessed the efficacy and safety of metformin with lifestyle interventions, compared with a placebo with lifestyle interventions, in children and adolescents with obesity.
DATA EXTRACTION: Two researchers independently extracted data and assessed quality. The primary outcomes were mean changes from baseline in BMI, BMI z score, homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance, and gastrointestinal adverse effects.
RESULTS: Twenty-four RCTs (1623 patients; range: 16 to 151) were included. Ages ranged from 4 to 19 years, and follow-up ranged from 2 months to 2 years. Metformin resulted in a modest decrease in BMI (range of mean values: -2.70 to 1.30 vs -1.12 to 1.90), BMI z score (range of mean values: -0.37 to -0.03 vs -0.22 to 0.15), and homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance (range of mean values: -3.74 to 1.00 vs -1.40 to 2.66). Metformin resulted in a higher frequency of gastrointestinal adverse effects (range: 2% to 74% vs 0% to 42%).
LIMITATIONS: The available evidence is of varying quality, with high heterogeneity between trials, suggesting some uncertainty in the benefits of metformin in this population.
CONCLUSIONS: With this systematic review of RCTs, we suggest that metformin has modest but favorable effects on weight and insulin resistance and a tolerable safety profile among children and adolescents with obesity.
At best, several small, heterogeneous studies of children and adolescents suggest metformin might help a little. Tolerability might be an issue. Some studies had high drop out rates, which does not bode well for our less motivated and compliant non-study populations.
I thought metformine had better evidence improving BMI in underaged population than this review shows. One thing called my attention: if the review was performed in Canada, why was the study selection performed at Qatar?