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Nonpharmacologic and Pharmacologic Management of Weight Gain

Isaac Greenberg, PhD; Samuel Chan, MD; and George L. Blackburn, MD, PhD

Published: August 1, 1999

Article Abstract

Obesity increases the risk of several serious health problems, including heart disease, type II diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and osteoarthritis. Patients taking certain psychotropic medications may gain a significant amount of weight (as much as a 5% increase in body weight within 1 to 2 months), placing them at risk for obesity. Body weight monitoring and prudent drug selection are the best approaches to preventing weight gain in patients taking psychotropic drugs. When weight gain (> 5% of initial body weight) is unavoidable, intervention counseling should begin. Nonpharmacologic measures for managing weight gain include a balanced deficit diet of 1000 calories and higher, depending on the patient’s weight; 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity daily; and behavioral training to restrain excess caloric intake. Each of these measures requires a considerable commitment on the part of the patient and works best with support from the physician and weight-loss support groups. Drug therapy for weight loss is available (at present, sibutramine is the only approved appetite suppressant in the United States); however, for most patients already being treated with a psychotropic agent, the risks (such as drug interactions, adverse events, compliance problems) of adding an antiobesity agent probably outweigh the benefits. Surgical intervention for obesity should be reserved for morbidly obese patients whose disease is intractable to medical therapy.

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