An overview of obesity in children with psychiatric disorders taking atypical antipsychotics

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry

Publication Date


Document Type



Adolescent; Antipsychotic Agents; Appetite Depressants; Child; Child, Preschool; Cognitive Therapy; Combined Modality Therapy; Diet, Reducing; Exercise; Female; Humans; Hypoglycemic Agents; Male; Mental Disorders; Metformin; Obesity; Patient Admission; Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic; Treatment Outcome; Weight Gain




BACKGROUND: Children with psychiatric illness are at greater risk for obesity than those in the general population. In part, this greater risk is due to the escalating use of psychotropic medications. Second-generation antipsychotics effectively treat mental illness but are associated with weight gain. Data for management of obesity in this population is lacking.

METHODS: Articles on obesity, mental illness, and obesity management were reviewed. Keywords included children, adolescents, obesity, weight gain, psychiatric illness, therapy, treatment, and antipsychotic.

RESULTS: For pediatric obesity, educational, nutritional, behavioral, and family-based interventions were identified as nonpharmacological interventions. All nonpharmacological modalities indicate modest to moderate success in weight control or loss. Pharmacological agents, alone or with diet and exercise, appear promising in obesity management.

CONCLUSION: Since there are limited intervention studies available for obese children with psychiatric illness, general childhood obesity studies may be referenced for trials in this population. Long-term efficacy and safety of these interventions are not yet available. Methodological constraints of prior studies include small sample sizes and the absence of randomized, placebo-controlled, and longitudinal trials - highlighting the need for further trials addressing these issues. Clinical monitoring and management of medication-induced obesity remains an important public health concern.

DOI of Published Version



Harv Rev Psychiatry. 2008;16(2):69-79. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Harvard review of psychiatry

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID