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Mental Illness is Not an Excuse for Not Losing Weight



Most people will say that it is impossible for people with mental illness to stay away from obese related diseases, but a new study proves that it is not true.  Those suffering from mental illness can stay away from obese related problems if they have a program that will guide them to adhere to a healthy lifestyle.

The new research is the first large study that has been conducted on people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or serious depression; it implies that even those with serious mental problems can also have a healthy lifestyle. Most mental patients are overweight; therefore, they have a high mortality rate compared to that of the general population, primarily because of obesity-related conditions. Aside from the sedentary lifestyle that these people have, they also take medication that has weight gain side effects.

Results of the new study published online on March 21 in the New England Journal of Medicine and got presented on the same day at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism 2013 Scientific Sessions (EPI/NPAM).

Gail L. Daumit, M.D., M.H.S., an associate professor of general internal medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and leads the study said that they want to prove that even those with mental illness can have a healthy lifestyle.

The study, which was better known, as ACHIEVE (Randomized Trial of Achieving Healthy Lifestyles in Psychiatric Rehabilitation) has gathered 291 overweight or obese mental patients.  The researchers group them into two groups wherein 144 of them randomly placed in an intervention group while 147 treated as the control group. The intervention was conducted at 10 Baltimore area outpatient psychiatric rehabilitation day facilities that were involved with helping patients with a mental problem to live a normal life with their vocational and skills training, case management, and other services for people.

For the study, the researchers added weight-management sessions for groups and individuals, wherein the patients were urged to exercise thrice a week to weigh themselves every week for the six month period. The program continued for the following year, but not as frequently as before.

After 18,  months, the intervention group lost seven more pounds compared to that of the control group. Practically 38 percent of the patients who belong to the intervention group lost 5 percent or more of their initial weight as opposed to 23 percent of the control group. Over 18 percent of those mental patients from the intervention group lost around 10 percent of their body weight after the 18 months period, as opposed to the 7 percent in the control group.