Influence of methylphenidate on eating in obese men

Obes Res. 2004 Feb;12(2):224-32. doi: 10.1038/oby.2004.29.


Objective: Rapid synaptic dopamine transport or reduced brain dopamine receptor signaling may influence energy intake. Methylphenidate, a dopamine reuptake inhibitor, increases brain synaptic dopamine and produces anorexia, suggesting that it may reduce energy intake. We investigated the effects of two doses of short-acting methylphenidate on energy intake over one meal in obese adult males.

Research methods and procedures: Nine obese males (>85th BMI percentile) ingested a placebo or a moderate dose (0.5 mg/kg) or a high dose (1.0 mg/kg) of methylphenidate in a within-subject double-blind acute laboratory study. One hour after ingestion, pizza consumption was measured in a naturalistic laboratory setting.

Results: Participants reduced energy intake by 23% for the moderate dose vs. the placebo (p < 0.02), but there was no significant difference for the high dose vs. the moderate dose (p > 0.05). Participants consumed 34% fewer kilocalories after ingesting the lowest effective dose of methylphenidate compared with placebo (725.7 +/- 404.5 vs.1095 +/- 271.1 kcal, p < 0.01). Seven of nine subjects responded to the moderate dose. The increase in perceived drug effect above placebo was correlated with the reduction in energy intake for both the moderate (r = -0.85, p = 0.004) and the high (r = -0.75 p = 0.021) doses. Hunger scores were not different across drug doses or placebo before drug administration.

Discussion: Methylphenidate reduced energy intake of a highly palatable food over one meal by one-third in obese adult males. Dopamine transport inhibition may be an effective component of a comprehensive treatment for obesity.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Dopamine Uptake Inhibitors / administration & dosage
  • Dopamine Uptake Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Eating / drug effects*
  • Eating / physiology
  • Energy Intake / drug effects
  • Energy Intake / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Methylphenidate / administration & dosage
  • Methylphenidate / pharmacology*
  • Obesity / drug therapy*
  • Satiation / drug effects
  • Satiation / physiology


  • Dopamine Uptake Inhibitors
  • Methylphenidate