Jeddah-According to research conducted by the Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia , more than three million children, or one out of five, in the Kingdom, suffer from obesity. It said, “Obesity and its associated health risks are one of the most common nutritional diseases at present.” Another scientific study confirms that overweight children “are more prone to a number of serious chronic illnesses, especially heart disease, with the number of at risk children, currently reaching 61% in Saudi Arabia .”
The European Union has endorsed a drug, commercially known as Zenical, for the treatment of obesity in children and those over 12 years of age. The drug, the EU clarified, is the only safe medication proven to decrease the weight of the clinically obese.
It was approved after extensive tests were carried out, including a study on its efefcts on 539 children. They were divided into two groups, with one taking the drug and the other a placebo. The children who were given Zenical, three times a day, lost 5% of the body weight in twelve weeks. The drug acts by preventing the absorption of a third of the total amount of fat in food, thereby lowering the energy available for the body to consume.
Some doctors and researchers, working for the US Food and Drug Administration, are convinced the drug is effective in combating obesity and have allowed it to be used for teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17.