July 31, 2005

Nutritional Intervention Prevents Antipsychotic Weight Gain

It is well known that antipsychotics can sometimes cause one to gain weight, but how to keep that from happening is what should be studied to a greater degree. A new study has come out studying the effects of a nutritional intervention on those taking the antipsychotic olanzapine.

"'Olanzapine is the most commonly prescribed atypical antipsychotic medication in Australia. Research reports an average weight gain of between 4.5 and 7 kg [between 9.9lbs. and 15.4lbs.] in the 3 months following its commencement. Trying to minimize this weight gain in a population with an already high prevalence of obesity, mortality, and morbidity is of clinical and social importance. This randomized controlled trial investigated the impact of individual nutrition education provided by a dietitian on weight gain in the 3 and 6 months following the commencement of olanzapine,' investigators in Australia report" (NewsRX.net).

The study had 51 participants who had begun taking olanzapine within the last 3 months; they were recruited through the Peninsula Health Psychiatric Services. 29 were randomly assigned to the nutritional intervention and 22 were placed in the control group. Those in the intervention group had to take six 1-hour sessions on nutritional education over a 3 month period. At the end of 3 months the control group had gained significantly more weight than those in the nutritional intervention group. The control group had an average weight gain of 6kg (13.2 lbs.) compared to the intervention group who had an average weight gain of 2kg (4.4 lbs.). Those who had the nutritional intervention also reported "significantly greater improvements in moderate exercise levels, quality of life, health, and body image compared to the controls."

After 6 months the control group continued to have a weight gain that was significantly higher than the intervention group. Six months later the control group had an average weight gain of 9.9 kg (21.8 lbs) while those in treatment group had an average weight gain of 2 kg (4.4 lbs). This study only used the antipsychotic drug olanzapine, but this does not undermine the fact proven by this study: Nutritional education from a dietician helps to lower weight gain and therefore improve one's physical health. Maintaining an active lifestyle while taking antipsychotics will improve your physical and possibly your mental health.

Evans and associates published their study in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry (Nutritional intervention to prevent weight gain in patients commenced on olanzapine: a randomized controlled trial. Aust N Z J Psychiatry, 2005;39(6):479-486).

For additional information, contact S. Evans, Peninsula Health, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Frankston Hospital, PO Box 52, Frankston, Victoria 3199, Australia. E-mail: sevans@phcn.vic.gov.au.

The source of this article is Mental Health Law Weekly via NewsRX.net.


I have taken antipsychotics now for 18 years. I was in reasonably good shape when I started but now am in the obese category weighing 200 pounds at 5'9". Is there anything which can help with weight loss besides "diet pills"? Is there a new product under development on the market which will resolve this issue???

Posted by: Christine at August 15, 2005 03:08 PM

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