Aversion to Off-label Prescribing in Clinical Pediatric Weight Management: The Quintessential Double Standard

Christine B. San Giovanni, Brooke Sweeney, Joseph A. Skelton, Megan M. Kelsey, Aaron S. Kelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Context: Pediatric obesity is now recognized as a chronic disease; yet few treatment options exist besides lifestyle modification therapy and bariatric surgery. We describe the limited availability of United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA)–approved antiobesity medications for adolescents and compare this to what is available for adults. We offer a rationale for off-label prescribing to assist with lifestyle modification therapy. We also highlight the need for more pharmacotherapy options and additional research into novel treatments for pediatric obesity. Case Description: We describe a patient who is struggling with managing her weight and starting to develop complications of obesity. We offer a framework in which offlabel prescribing may be beneficial to patients who have been engaging in lifestyle modification therapy yet fail to see improvement. Conclusion: Lifestyle modification therapy is necessary but often insufficient in stimulating clinically meaningful weight loss when used alone in children and adolescents who struggle with weight management. Until more FDA-approved antiobesity medications are available, pediatricians may be able to help more patients achieve weight reduction goals by familiarizing themselves with the responsible use of off-label medications and implementing these tools to improve clinical outcomes. There is a critical need for more pharmacotherapy options to help pediatric patients in managing their weight and preventing or improving the insidious complications resulting from untreated obesity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2103-2113
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jun 16 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Endocrine Society. All rights reserved.


  • Pediatric obesity
  • off-label prescribing
  • weight management


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