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Antipsychotic-associated weight gain: management strategies and impact on treatment adherence

Authors Dayabandara M, Hanwella R, Ratnatunga S, Seneviratne S, Suraweera C, de Silva VA

Received 4 March 2017

Accepted for publication 4 July 2017

Published 22 August 2017 Volume 2017:13 Pages 2231—2241

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S113099

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Amy Norman

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Roger Pinder


Madhubhashinee Dayabandara, Raveen Hanwella, Suhashini Ratnatunga, Sudarshi Seneviratne, Chathurie Suraweera, Varuni A de Silva

Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, Colombo, Sri Lanka


Abstract: Antipsychotic-induced weight gain is a major management problem for clinicians. It has been shown that weight gain and obesity lead to increased cardiovascular and cerebrovascular morbidity and mortality, reduced quality of life and poor drug compliance. This narrative review discusses the propensity of various antipsychotics to cause weight gain, the pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic interventions available to counteract this effect and its impact on adherence. Most antipsychotics cause weight gain. The risk appears to be highest with olanzapine and clozapine. Weight increases rapidly in the initial period after starting antipsychotics. Patients continue to gain weight in the long term. Children appear to be particularly vulnerable to antipsychotic-induced weight gain. Tailoring antipsychotics according to the needs of the individual and close monitoring of weight and other metabolic parameters are the best preventive strategies at the outset. Switching to an agent with lesser tendency to cause weight gain is an option, but carries the risk of relapse of the illness. Nonpharmacologic interventions of dietary counseling, exercise programs and cognitive and behavioral strategies appear to be equally effective in individual and group therapy formats. Both nonpharmacologic prevention and intervention strategies have shown modest effects on weight. Multiple compounds have been investigated as add-on medications to cause weight loss. Metformin has the best evidence in this respect. Burden of side effects needs to be considered when prescribing weight loss medications. There is no strong evidence to recommend routine prescription of add-on medication for weight reduction. Heterogeneity of study methodologies and other confounders such as lifestyle, genetic and illness factors make interpretation of data difficult.

Keywords: antipsychotics, weight gain, weight-reducing agents, metabolic, treatment adherence

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