Patients with Mental Illness Can Benefit from Behavioral Weight Loss Programs -

Behavioral Weight Loss Programs for Serious Mental Illness

Patients with Mental Illness Can Benefit from Behavioral Weight Loss Programs

Adults suffering from serious levels of mental illness and who simultaneously suffer from obesity may be able to benefit from behavioral weight loss programs, according to new research. This is important for many reasons, including that obesity is suspected to negatively impact mental health just as it negatively affects physical health.

The results of the study were published in the Diabetic Medicine journal. They found that regardless of whether or not the patients had diabetes, the behavioral weight loss programs still appeared to be beneficial for weight loss.

People who suffer from serious mental illness (S.M.I.) have a heightened obesity risk. In fact, they are almost twice as likely to suffer from obesity than the rate of the general population. This, according to Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine assistant professor of medicine, Eva Tseng, MD, MPH, and colleagues behind the study. Similarly, people with S.M.I. are also 12 percent more likely to have diabetes, and this doesn’t take into account the estimated 70 percent who go undiagnosed.

Tseng and the research team collected data from 291 participants from the ACHIEVE trial. That research involved the participation of adults with S.M.I.s and who were either overweight or obese. Each participant was a patient in one of ten different community outpatient psychiatric rehabilitation programs located in Maryland. The data was collected from January 2009 through February 2011.

The group from whom Tseng and the research team collected their data included 82 people diagnosed with diabetes. The average age of those with diabetes was 48.4 years at the start of the study. Just over half, 52.1 percent, of the diabetic participants were female. Among the 209 participants without diabetes, the average age was 44.1 years and just under half, 45.1 percent, were female.

The participants were randomly assigned to either a behavioral weight loss intervention or a control group. The behavioral weight loss intervention included individual and group weight management sessions in addition to group exercise participation. The control group received information about nutrition and physical activity and participated in a quarterly health class. All participants were weighed at the start of the research as well as at the 6-month, 12-month and 18-month mark from the start of the research.

The researchers found that regardless of whether or not the participants had diabetes, those who were in the intervention group lost more weight than the control group. Those without diabetes lost an average of 6.6 percent of their weight at the start of the research. Those with diabetes lost an average of 2.9 percent of their starting body weight. On the other hand, those in control group without diabetes lost 0.7 percent of their starting weight and those with diabetes lost 0.6 percent. This suggests that regardless of diabetes diagnosis, this presents a promising obesity treatment for patients with S.M.I.s.