Metformin for Obesity in Prepubertal and Pubertal Children: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Pediatrics. 2017 Jul;140(1):e20164285. doi: 10.1542/peds.2016-4285. Epub 2017 Jun 12.


Objectives: Metformin has shown its effectiveness in treating obesity in adults. However, little research has been conducted in children, with a lack of attention on pubertal status. The objectives were to determine whether oral metformin treatment reduces BMI z score, cardiovascular risk, and inflammation biomarkers in children who are obese depending on pubertal stage and sex.

Methods: This was a randomized, prospective, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter trial, stratified according to pubertal stage and sex, conducted at 4 Spanish clinical hospitals. Eighty prepubertal and 80 pubertal nondiabetic children who were obese aged 7 to 14 years with a BMI >95th percentiles were recruited. The intervention included 1 g/d of metformin versus placebo for 6 months. The primary outcome was a reduction in BMI z score. Secondary outcomes comprised insulin resistance, cardiovascular risk, and inflammation biomarkers.

Results: A total of 140 children completed the study (72 boys). Metformin decreased the BMI z score versus placebo in the prepubertal group (-0.8 and -0.6, respectively; difference, 0.2; P = .04). Significant increments were observed in prepubertal children treated with metformin versus placebo recipients in the quantitative insulin sensitivity check index (0.010 and -0.007; difference, 0.017; P = .01) and the adiponectin-leptin ratio (0.96 and 0.15; difference, 0.81; P = .01) and declines in interferon-γ (-5.6 and 0; difference, 5.6; P = .02) and total plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (-1.7 and 2.4; difference, 4.1; P = .04). No serious adverse effects were reported.

Conclusions: “Metformin decreased the BMI z score and improved inflammatory and cardiovascular-related obesity parameters only in prepubertal children, but a differential effect of metformin was not observed in prepubertal compared to pubertal children. Nevertheless, the doses per kilogram of weight administrated may have had an impact on the metformin effect. Further investigations are necessary.”

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Child
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / etiology
  • Inflammation / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Metformin / therapeutic use*
  • Pediatric Obesity / blood
  • Pediatric Obesity / complications
  • Pediatric Obesity / drug therapy*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Puberty
  • Sex Factors


  • Biomarkers
  • Metformin