Estimating the consequences of anti-psychotic induced weight gain on health and mortality rate

Kevin R. Fontaine, Moonseong Heo, Edmund P. Harrigan, Charles L. Shear, Mani Lakshminarayanan, Daniel E. Casey, David B. Allison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

233 Scopus citations


Many anti-psychotic medications produce marked weight gain. In this study, we estimate the expected impact of degrees of antipsychotic-induced weight gain on selected mortality rate and incidence rates of impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) and hypertension (HTN) among US adults. Using raw data from 5209 respondents from the Framingham Heart Study's public use data set and national statistics on population demographics, we estimated the expected effect of weight gain on number of deaths and incident cases of IGT and HTN for a 10-year period commencing in 1999. Results indicated that the estimated deleterious effects of weight gain were greater for people with higher BMIs at baseline, for greater degrees of weight gain, for men than women, and for older than younger persons. Because there is a 'U-shaped' relation between BMI and mortality rate, small to moderate weight gains among people with baseline BMIs less than 23 were predicted to decrease mortality rates, whereas weight gains among people with baseline BMIs above that level were expected to increase mortality rates. However, the relations of IGT and HTN with BMI are monotonically increasing. Thus, the anticipated effect of weight gain on IGT and HTN is deleterious regardless of baseline BMI. Because it is unclear whether the beneficial effects of the atypical agents on, for example, reducing suicide mortality, outweigh the putative increase in mortality due to weight gain, we estimate the beneficial effects due to decreased death from suicide with the potential deleterious effects due to a 10-kg weight gain. We found that 492 suicide deaths per 100000 schizophrenic patients would be prevented over 10 years with the use of clozapine compared to 416 additional deaths due to antipsychotic induced weight gain. Although this estimate is rather crude and should be seen only as offering a sense of the likely situation, results suggest that the lives saved via clozapine may essentially be offset by the deaths due to weight gain. As we discuss, it is not possible to provide definitive estimates of the effect of antipsychotic-induced weight gain on health and mortality, but our findings suggest that the magnitude of weight gains induced by many antipsychotic agents is likely to have important deleterious effects on mortality and health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)277-288
Number of pages12
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 15 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Atypical antipsychotics
  • Obesity
  • Weight gain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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