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The Clinical Implications of Weight Gain in Schizophrenia

Ilsemarie Kurzthaler, MD; and W. Wolfgang Fleischhacker, MD

Published: June 1, 2001

Article Abstract

The tendency of most of the second generation antipsychotics to induce weight gain to a larger extent than that of traditional neuroleptics has renewed the interest in weight problems of patients with schizophrenia. Drug-induced weight gain has been identified as a major risk factor for various medical disorders that might be responsible for the increased morbidity and mortality rates of patients suffering from schizophrenia. Also, it has a major impact on compliance. This article focuses on the clinical relevance of increased body weight in schizophrenia. It outlines screening and management options to prevent and/or manage weight gain associated with schizophrenia in everyday clinical practice. The first strategies should be to identify obesity-prone patients at the beginning of treatment and provide information (to patients and caregivers) about the risks of weight gain and its consequences. Additionally, the possibility of weight gain calls for a regular monitoring of weight and weight-related laboratory parameters. The patients should also be offered dietary advice as well as regular exercise and behavior modification programs. Physicians must be aware of the problem of weight gain associated with schizophrenia and choose antipsychotic medication carefully, especially in patients at high risk for weight gain.

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