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Management of Weight Gain in Patients With Schizophrenia

Ralph Aquila, MD

Published: April 1, 2002

Article Abstract

Of the roughly 55% of the United States population that is considered overweight, half meet the criteriafor obesity. Obesity is associated with serious health risks, but many clinicians graduate from medical schoolwithout a clear understanding of the effects of the foods that they and their patients consume. Obesity ismore prevalent in people with mental illnesses, which poses an even greater challenge to clinicians. Antipsychotictreatment can cause weight gain, and mentally ill patients generally lack an understanding of nutritionas well as the ability to afford healthier foods. Therefore, clinicians must educate themselves about appropriatemeasures for preventing weight gain before or immediately after initiating antipsychotic therapy. Strategiesfor weight gain management that have proven effective in clinical trials include regular check-ups, lifestyleand medication counseling, medication assessments, behavioral control programs, and pharmacologicintervention. These approaches are necessary for clinicians to consider if efforts at reintegration of mentallyill patients are to succeed.

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Volume: 63

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