Medication-Induced Weight Change Across Common Antidepressant Treatments : A Target Trial Emulation Study.

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Antidepressants are among the most commonly prescribed medications, but evidence on comparative weight change for specific first-line treatments is limited.


To compare weight change across common first-line antidepressant treatments by emulating a target trial.


Observational cohort study over 24 months.


Electronic health record (EHR) data from 2010 to 2019 across 8 U.S. health systems.


183 118 patients.


Prescription data determined initiation of treatment with sertraline, citalopram, escitalopram, fluoxetine, paroxetine, bupropion, duloxetine, or venlafaxine. The investigators estimated the population-level effects of initiating each treatment, relative to sertraline, on mean weight change (primary) and the probability of gaining at least 5% of baseline weight (secondary) 6 months after initiation. Inverse probability weighting of repeated outcome marginal structural models was used to account for baseline confounding and informative outcome measurement. In secondary analyses, the effects of initiating and adhering to each treatment protocol were estimated.


Compared with that for sertraline, estimated 6-month weight gain was higher for escitalopram (difference, 0.41 kg [95% CI, 0.31 to 0.52 kg]), paroxetine (difference, 0.37 kg [CI, 0.20 to 0.54 kg]), duloxetine (difference, 0.34 kg [CI, 0.22 to 0.44 kg]), venlafaxine (difference, 0.17 kg [CI, 0.03 to 0.31 kg]), and citalopram (difference, 0.12 kg [CI, 0.02 to 0.23 kg]); similar for fluoxetine (difference, -0.07 kg [CI, -0.19 to 0.04 kg]); and lower for bupropion (difference, -0.22 kg [CI, -0.33 to -0.12 kg]). Escitalopram, paroxetine, and duloxetine were associated with 10% to 15% higher risk for gaining at least 5% of baseline weight, whereas bupropion was associated with 15% reduced risk. When the effects of initiation and adherence were estimated, associations were stronger but had wider CIs. Six-month adherence ranged from 28% (duloxetine) to 41% (bupropion).


No data on medication dispensing, low medication adherence, incomplete data on adherence, and incomplete data on weight measures across time points.


Small differences in mean weight change were found between 8 first-line antidepressants, with bupropion consistently showing the least weight gain, although adherence to medications over follow-up was low. Clinicians could consider potential weight gain when initiating antidepressant treatment.


National Institutes of Health.

Ann Intern Med
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Medication-Induced Weight Change Across Common Antidepressant Treatments : A Target Trial Emulation Study.
Petimar J, Young JG, Yu H, Rifas-Shiman SL, Daley MF, Heerman WJ, Janicke DM, Jones WS, Lewis KH, Lin PD, Prentice C, Merriman JW, Toh S, Block JP