HealthDay News — Antidepressant prescribing is associated with long-term increased risk of weight gain, according to a study published online May 23 in The BMJ.

Rafael Gafoor, PhD, from King’s College London, and colleagues examined the long-term association between antidepressant prescribing and body weight in a population-based cohort study. Data were included for 136,762 men and 157,957 women with three or more records for body mass index from general practices contributing to the U.K. Clinical Practice Research Datalink from 2004 to 2014. 

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The researchers found that 13% of men and 22.4% of women were prescribed antidepressants in the year of study entry. During 1,836,452 person-years of follow-up, the incidence of new episodes of ≥5% weight gain was 8.1 and 11.2 per 100 person-years in participants not prescribed and prescribed antidepressants, respectively (adjusted rate ratio, 1.21). During at least 6 years of follow-up, the risk of weight gain remained increased. For those who were initially normal weight, the adjusted rate ratio was 1.29 for transition to overweight or obesity; the adjusted rate ratio for transition to obesity was 1.29 for those initially overweight.

“Widespread utilization of antidepressants may be contributing to long-term increased risk of weight gain at population level,” the authors write. “The potential for weight gain should be considered when antidepressant treatment is indicated.”

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