The Effects of Anti-obesity Pharmacotherapy Interventions on Psychosocial Factors Among Adolescents with Obesity: a Scoping Review


Purpose of Review

The purpose of this review was to investigate and synthesize psychosocial outcomes from pharmacotherapy experimental trials for weight loss among adolescents with obesity.

Recent Findings

There is a paucity of research regarding pharmacological interventions for adolescents with obesity. These studies have typically reported reductions in weight, and side effects have been inconsistently described. Overall, medication seems to be a safe and effective obesity treatment modality for adolescents with obesity.


Six articles were included in this review. Studies varied in medication type, medication dosing, lifestyle components, psychosocial measures, measurement intervals, and psychosocial outcomes. All studies found a reduction in weight and/or BMI. Studies were often underpowered to detect differences in psychosocial variables, which were always considered secondary or exploratory outcomes. Future research should include psychosocial outcomes as a primary endpoint of pharmacological interventions for adolescent obesity. Ultimately, the treatment of the complex disease of obesity deserves to be assessed through multiple health domains extending beyond weight reduction.

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Fig. 1.


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

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Dr. Cardel is supported by the National Institute of Health National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (K01HL141535 and R25HL126146) and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (UL1TR001427).

Author information




Conceptualization: JRD and MIC

Methodology: JRD, JMD, and LEA

Resources: MIC

Data curation: JMD and LEA

Visualization: JMD and LEA

Supervision: MIC

Project administration: JRD and FAN

Data interpretation: all authors

First draft of manuscript: JRD, FAN, JMD, and LEA

Major revisions and final review of manuscript: all authors

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Jackson R. Dillard or Michelle I. Cardel.

Ethics declarations

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

All reported studies/experiments with human or animal subjects performed by the authors have been previously published and complied with all applicable ethical standards (including the Helsinki declaration and its amendments, institutional/national research committee standards, and international/national/institutional guidelines).

Conflict of interest statements

Jackson R. Dillard declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Faith A. Newsome is a DEEP member for Novo Nordisk. Novo Nordisk occasionally sends her projects to offer feedback on as a patient. She is sometimes paid for these activities.

Aaron S. Kelly has served as an unpaid consultant for Novo Nordisk, Vivus, and Weight Watchers, and has been provided drugs/placebo from AstraZeneca to conduct a clinical trial funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Amy C. Gross has received research support from Rhythm Pharmaceuticals, and has served as an unpaid consultant for Vivus.

Jane Morgan-Daniel declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Lauren E. Adkins declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Sweta S. Madem declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Michelle I. Cardel is supported by grants from the NIH National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences and WellCare Health Plans, Inc.; has received compensation from Weight Watchers for service as a consultant; and has received non-financial support from Novo Nordisk.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Maternal and Childhood Nutrition

Jackson R. Dillard and Faith A. Newsome are co-first authors.

Appendix 1

Appendix 1

Table 3 Search Strategy for CINAHL

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Dillard, J.R., Newsome, F.A., Kelly, A.S. et al. The Effects of Anti-obesity Pharmacotherapy Interventions on Psychosocial Factors Among Adolescents with Obesity: a Scoping Review. Curr Nutr Rep (2021).

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  • Adolescent obesity
  • Pharmacological interventions
  • Psychosocial outcomes