For Persons With Serious Mental Illness, Weight Loss Is Possible

March 26, 2013

Medication side effects of weight gain and increased appetite, together with non-adherence often found in persons with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other serious mental illnesses, have challenged clinicians in the past.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine reports that a behavioral weight-loss program significantly reduced weight in overweight and obese adults with serious mental illness. Daumit and colleagues1 emphasized the importance of such an investigation, noting, “Overweight and obesity are epidemic among persons with serious mental illness, yet weight-loss trials systematically exclude this vulnerable population.”

The study employed an intervention program that modified diet and activity tailored to persons with serious mental illness and concluded participants were able to lose weight. This is significant because medication adverse effects of weight gain and increased appetite, together with non-adherence found in some persons with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other serious mental illnesses, are challenges clinicians and their patients often face.2

References 1. Daumit GL, Dickerson FB, Wang NY, et al. A behavioral weight-loss intervention in persons with serious mental illness. N Engl J Med. 2013 Mar 21. [Epub ahead of print]
2. Lieberman JA, Stroup TS, McEvoy JP, et al. Clinical antipsychotic trials of intervention effectiveness (CATIE). Effectiveness of antipsychotic drugs in patients with chronic schizophrenia. N Engl J Med.. 2005;353:1209-1223.

For particulars on study design and research methods, please see the abstract at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23517118.