Posted On: October 29, 2009

Do Mental Health Drugs Make Kids Fat?

An article recently published in the Journal of American Medical Association documents findings that associate atypical antipsychotics to weight gain in children who are first-time users of the drugs. The study, headed by Dr. Christoph Correll in New York, includes 272 youths age 4 to 19 and is “the largest and most definitive to date to establish a link between the drugs and weight gain,” writes Jonathan Rockoff of the Wall Street Journal.

The JAMA study examined four top-selling atypical antipsychotics (powerful drugs prescribed to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder): Abilify, Risperdal, Seroquel and Zyprexa. Among them, Zyprexa was found to cause the most weight gain: 19 pounds in 11 weeks. It was also found to “significantly raise levels of blood sugar, cholesterol, insulin and triglycerides,” thereby increasing users’ risk of diabetes and heart problems. Patients taking other three medications had an average of 10 to 13 pounds of weight gain.

Dr. Correll, the lead author of the study, recommends using extra caution in prescribing these atypical antipsychotics to youths under the age of 18, and encourages psychiatrists to frequently monitor the weight and metabolic rate of those who are taking these drugs.

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