Challenges in nutrition-based treatment for weight control in adolescents suffering from schizophrenia

Michal Shani*, Mazal Levi, Gil Zalsman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The rate of overweight people amongst schizophrenia sufferers is higher than it is in the general population and this is true even prior to starting drug treatment. It is well known that antipsychotic medications increase the severity of weight control problems. It seems that weight gain is even more significant in adolescents than in adults. The mechanisms in those medications which cause weight gain are not well understood. Hormones like Leptin, Ghrelin and others are being investigated in relation to this issue. Various interventions, like weight loss medications, were investigated in adults suffering from schizophrenia but not in adolescents. Other weight loss interventions, for example behavior therapy, were also investigated in adults, both as preventive measures and as treatment for already present excessive weight. Even caloric limitation was attempted in closed adult wards. The majority of studies show that there is only a small loss of weight and the patients maintain their high Body Mass Index (BMI). Among adolescents suffering from schizophrenia it was found that weight gain results mostly from increase in caloric intake. The easy availability of processed foods and their relatively low cost, result in the positive caloric balance. During adolescence there is increased sensitivity to outer appearance, however, those youngsters have great difficulty following professionals' advice for a balanced diet. This is particularly hard for those adolescents who are treated with antipsychotics and suffer from increased appetite. In a comparative study of various weight loss treatments for children it was found that the most efficient one is group weight loss clinics intended strictly for parents. The efficacy of such group weight loss clinics for parents of schizophrenia suffering adolescents should also be investigated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)901-905
Number of pages5
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2008


  • Adolescents
  • Antipsychotic agents
  • Diet
  • Overweight
  • Schizophrenia


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