Harvard Mental Health Letter

In Brief: Second-generation antipsychotics cause weight gain in youths

Second-generation antipsychotics cause significant weight gain in adults. Now the same problem has been reported in a study of children and adolescents.

Researchers at the North Shore–Long Island Jewish Health System followed 205 patients, ages 4 to 19, who were treated with a second-generation antipsychotic for at least 12 weeks. A comparison group consisted of similar children who did not take medication.

After a median of 11 weeks, children taking olanzapine (Zyprexa) gained 8.5 kg (nearly 19 pounds); those taking quetiapine (Seroquel) gained 6.1 kg (roughly 13.5 pounds), those taking risperidone (Risperdal) gained 5.3 kg (about 11.5 pounds), and those taking aripiprazole (Abilify) gained 4.4 kg (about 9.5 pounds) — compared with a weight gain of 0.2 kg (less than half a pound) in the comparison group.

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