Obesity in Adolescents with Psychiatric Disorders

  • Ariana M. Chao
  • Thomas A. Wadden
  • Robert I. BerkowitzEmail author
Child and Adolescent Disorders (T Benton, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Child and Adolescent Disorders


Purpose of Review

This narrative review synthesized recent research related to obesity in adolescents with psychiatric disorders, with a focus on epidemiology, mechanisms, and weight management approaches. The paper reviews literature on depressive and anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders.

Recent Findings

Depression has a bidirectional relationship with obesity. Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia spectrum disorders, and their treatments, increase the risk of developing obesity. Mechanisms underlying this weight gain include lifestyle and environmental factors and psychiatric medications, though emerging evidence has also suggested the role of genetic and neuroendocrine processes. Evidence about the most effective treatments for obesity in adolescents with psychiatric disorders remains limited.


Adolescents with psychiatric disorders are at high risk for obesity. Close monitoring for increases in weight and cardiometabolic risk factors with use of antipsychotic and mood-stabilizing medications is recommended. Clinical trials are needed that test the efficacy of weight management strategies for this population.


Adolescence Obesity Psychiatric disorders Depression Bipolar disorder Schizophrenia 



Ariana M. Chao was supported, in part, by the National Institute of Nursing Research of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number K23NR017209. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Ariana M. Chao reports grants and personal fees from Shire Pharmaceuticals, outside the submitted work.

Thomas A. Wadden reports grants and personal fees from Novo Nordisk, grants from Eisai Pharmaceuticals, and personal fees from Weight Watchers, outside the submitted work.

Robert I. Berkowitz reports a research grant and personal fees from Eisai Inc., outside the submitted work.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ariana M. Chao
    • 1
    • 2
  • Thomas A. Wadden
    • 2
  • Robert I. Berkowitz
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Biobehavioral Health SciencesUniversity of Pennsylvania School of NursingPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryPerelman School of Medicine at the University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesChildren’s Hospital of PhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaUSA

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