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Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2008 May;42(5):369-81. doi: 10.1080/00048670801961123.

Antipsychotic induced weight gain in schizophrenia:mechanisms and management.

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  • 1Northern Sydney Central Coast Mental Health Service, Wyong Psychiatric Emergency Care Centre, Wyong Hospital, NSW, Australia.


The aim of the present paper was to describe the mechanisms and management of antipsychotic-induced weight gain in schizophrenia patients. A comprehensive literature review of all available articles on the mechanisms and management of antipsychotic-induced weight gain was done by searching databases PsychINFO and PubMed. A summary of the available guidelines for monitoring of antipsychotic-induced weight gain and metabolic syndrome is also provided. There has been a substantial increase in the number of studies investigating the mechanisms and management of antipsychotic-induced weight gain after 2002. These include advances in the understanding of pharmacogenomics of weight gain and several randomized controlled trials (RCTs) evaluating pharmacological and psychological treatments to promote weight loss. The most effective strategy for prevention of weight gain is the choice of antipsychotic medication with low weight gain potential. In individuals with established weight gain and metabolic issues, switching to an antipsychotic agent with lower weight gain potential and/or lifestyle modifications with physical activity are most effective in promoting weight loss. Pharmacological agents such as orlistat and sibutramine are effective in general obesity but have not been sufficiently evaluated in antipsychotic-induced weight gain. The case to prescribe routine pharmacological treatment to promote weight loss is weak. Long-term, pragmatic studies are required to inform clinical practice. Weight gain in schizophrenia is associated with significant physical and psychological morbidity. Achieving an optimal trade-off between effectiveness and side-effects of antipsychotic agents, although difficult, is achievable. This should be based on three main principles: (i) a shared decision-making model between the patient, clinician and carer(s) when choosing an antipsychotic; (ii) a commitment to baseline and follow-up monitoring with explicit identification of the responsible individual or team; and (iii) the adoption of clear structured protocols for clinicians to follow in case of clinically significant weight gain and metabolic issues, which should incorporate greater collaboration between various health professionals from psychiatric and medical specialist services.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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