Objective: The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence and clinical relevance of weight gain during clozapine treatment. Previous reports indicated clinically significant weight gain in 13% to 85% of patients and an average gain of 9.0 to 24.7 lb.
Method: Twenty-one state hospital patients with treatment-resistant schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder were weighed weekly for 12 weeks before clozapine treatment and during the first 16 weeks of treatment. Psychiatric symptoms were rated with a modified version of the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS).
Results: The mean weight gain for the entire group was 13.9 lb, or 8.9% of body weight. During the 16 weeks of clozapine treatment, 38% of the patients experienced marked weight gains and 29% had moderate weight gains. The improvements in BPRS total score and composite negative symptom score were significantly greater for the eight patients with marked weight gains than for the other 13 patients.
Conclusions: Clozapine's propensity to induce weight gain may relate to the drug's efficacy and/or its unique neuropharmacologic effects. Increased attention to this phenomenon is important because of the morbidity associated with obesity.