Appetite and weight loss in children on atomoxetine therapy: an exploratory clinical study


  • Aparna Bhagat Deshmukh Department of Psychiatry, Rajawadi Municipal Hospital, Mumbai, Maharashtra
  • Vikas Deshmukh Department of Psychiatry, Terna Medical College, Mumbai, Maharashtra
  • Mohit Shah Consultant Psychiatrist - Private Practice, Mumbai, Maharashtra
  • Anjali Karira Consultant Psychiatrist - Private Practice, Mumbai, Maharashtra
  • Sagar Karia Department of Psychiatry, Lokmanya Tilak Municipal Medical College, Mumbai, Maharashtra
  • Nilesh Shah Department of Psychiatry, Lokmanya Tilak Municipal Medical College, Mumbai, Maharashtra
  • Sushma Sonavane Department of Psychiatry, Lokmanya Tilak Municipal Medical College, Mumbai, Maharashtra
  • Avinash De Sousa Department of Psychiatry, Lokmanya Tilak Municipal Medical College, Mumbai, Maharashtra



Atomoxetine, ADHD, Children and adolescents, Appetite, Weight loss


Background: Atomoxetine has been widely used for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children, adolescents and adults. Several studies have confirmed its efficacy as assessed by parent and teacher ratings with respect to school performance and social and family functioning. Loss of appetite and weight has been its well documented side effect. In this study, we tried to assess the frequency and severity of the side effect of loss of appetite and weight loss in children diagnosed with ADHD and treated with atomoxetine.

Methods: This study was conducted at a tertiary care hospital. Children diagnosed as having ADHD were started on the minimum effective dose of Atomoxetine (0.5–1mg/kg body weight). The weight and calorie consumed by the patient per day were recorded before starting the medication. The doses were titrated over the next one month at the end of which parents were asked about any apparent change in appetite of patients. Weight and the caloric intake were noted and comparisons made with the previous record.

Results: 49 patients completed the study. 21 (42.9%) patients had a decrease in weight. However, ‘clinically significant weight loss’ (>5% body weight) was seen in 3 (6.1%) patients only. 17 patients (34.7%) reported a decrease in their daily calorie intake. 15 (30.6%) parents reported appetite loss, out of which 9 (18.4%) parents reported a ‘major decrease’ in the appetite of their children, warranting a change of dose/dosing schedule.

Conclusions: Though a significant number of patients and their parents reported loss of appetite and weight, more frequently in females, clinically significant weight loss was seen only in a minority (6.1%) of patients. Nevertheless, a regular weight monitoring is a must in daily clinical practice when maintaining a patient on atomoxetine.


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