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Weight Loss Possible Despite Psychiatric Drug Use

September 04, 2019

Taking psychiatric medication did not hamper weight loss in people who participated in a structured weight loss program, researchers recently reported online in the journal Obesity.

The study compared weight loss outcomes for 17,519 adults enrolled in a lifestyle weight management program at the multisite Wharton Medical Clinic in Ontario, Canada. All participants had either a body mass index (BMI) of greater than 27 kg/m2 with at least one weight-related comorbidity or a BMI of greater than 30 kg/m2.

Researchers categorized participants in various ways, including whether or not they took psychiatric medications. More they 23% of participants took at least one psychiatric drug.

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Participants lost a significant amount of weight, regardless of psychiatric medication use, the study found. Women using psychiatric medication lost similar amounts of weight as women who did not use psychiatric medication. Meanwhile, men taking antidepressants lost slightly less weight compared with men taking both antidepressants and antipsychotics or men taking neither class of psychiatric medication.

“However, patients who were taking psychiatric medications associated with weight gain lost a similar amount of weight to those taking psychiatric medications that are weight neutral or associated with weight loss,” researchers wrote.

The study is believed to be the first to compare weight loss outcomes in people taking antidepressants, antipsychotics, both, or neither.

“In conclusion,” researchers wrote, “the results of this study suggest that a structured weight management program is associated with significant reductions in weight regardless of the class or weight effect of the psychiatric medication patients were taking.”

—Jolynn Tumolo


Wharton S, Kuk JL, Petrova L, Rye PI, Taylor VH, Christensen RAG. Effectiveness of a community-based weight management program for patients taking antidepressants and/or antipsychotics. Obesity. 2019;27(9):1539-1544.

Study suggests weight loss regardless of psychiatric medication use [press release]. Silver Spring, Maryland: The Obesity Society; August 23, 2019.

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