Adderall and Weight Loss

by on April 21, 2012

Although weight loss is an off-label use for Adderall it may be an undesirable side effect for patients not taking the drug for this purpose.

Understanding Weight Loss in Adderall Therapy

The active component of Adderall is amphetamine, a stimulant which has been historically used as an appetite suppressant as well as an antidepressant.

To better understand the cause of weight loss in Adderall therapy, we have to look back in the history of this drug. In 1996, Shire Pharmaceuticals first marketed Adderall brand as an instant-release tablet indicated for patients with ADHD. This medication was derived from the original formula of Obetrol - a weight control drug popularly used in the 50’s and 60’s. Since Adderall is a reformulated version of Obetrol, it has got some of the inherent features of diet pills. As a matter of fact, some healthcare providers occasionally prescribe Adderall as a weight loss drug.

Weight Loss in Children and Teenagers

Excessive or rapid weight loss can be particularly problematic for children because their bodies are still growing.

Clinical studies reveal that weight loss occurred in 4 percent of children and 9 percent of teenagers taking Adderall. Almost 36 percent of teenagers taking this drug reported loss of appetite while in children this side effect is slightly less. Although weight loss can be a good thing for some people, unintended weight loss can be a problem to many. In some patients weight loss can lead to other medical conditions and even cause malnutrition. Furthermore, this side effect can interfere with the rapid growth rate in children and teenagers during this stage, thwarting normal development.

It is recommended that Adderall be taken until after breakfast to reduce the potential for loss of appetite as well as weight loss. In addition, dietary counseling may be helpful in maintaining adequate nutritional intake. In case of sudden, uncontrolled weight loss, you should contact your healthcare provider right away. Your healthcare provider may recommend adjusting the dosage or changing the medication.  There also maybe other medications that can treat children for the same conditions without causing weight loss.

Adderall as a Diet Pill

Use of Adderall as a weight control or weight loss medication has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, in rare cases, your healthcare provider may prescribe Adderall for this purpose. There are certain situations wherein “off-label” use of this drug may be beneficial for the patient.

The FDA only regulates the advertisement or promotion of drugs by manufacturers. Essentially, their regulations cannot restrict how a doctor intends to prescribe or use a certain medication. Your healthcare provider is in the best position to determine whether using Adderall for weight control would be more beneficial in your situation.

Discuss with your healthcare provider the possible risks of taking this drug for weight loss. And feel free to ask your doctor if you feel he or she is using a medication for purposes not indicated by the FDA.  Most importantly, do not use this drug as a diet pill without approval of your healthcare provider.