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Mental Illness is no longer an Obstacle for Weight Loss

Keeping Off the Weight

It is not uncommon for people suffering from mental illnesses to have issues keeping a normal weight.[1] Many, are medically diagnosed as overweight or obese. However, programs are starting to pop up around the country that are designed to help them lose weight and keep it off.1

Weight Education

Education regarding a nutritional diet, motivation to attend regular exercise classes, and routine counseling sessions are able to aid persons with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression.1 Many of these patients take several psychotropic medicines, making them sedentary and whose side effects include weight gain.1 However, exercise increases endorphins which increase mood.1

According to Gail L. Daumit, an associate professor of general internal medicine at John Hopkins University School of Medicine, “There is this really important need to find ways to keep this population healthier and lose weight. We brought a weight-loss program to them, tailored to the needs of people with serious mental illness, and we were successful.”1 A recent study has reviewed this program and found good results.1

ACHIEVE, enrolled 291 overweight or obese patients with serious mental illnesses.1 They were split between an intervention and a control group. The intervention group was given access to vocational and skills trainings and case management services at the Baltimore-area outpatient psychiatric rehabilitation day facilities, as well as regular group and individual weight-management sessions, exercise classes, and weekly weigh-ins for the first six months.1

At the 18-month point, the intervention group had lost an average of seven more pounds than the control group.1 Specifically, 38 percent of the intervention group lost 5 percent or more of their initial weight, while 18 percent lost 10 percent or more.1

Weight-Conscious Habits

Daumit stated that the participants lost more weight as the study continued; therefore, as the behavioral changes became habit, more positive results were seen.1 Tailored programs can allow people with mental illness to overcome their obstacles with losing weight.1



[1] Desmon, S. (2013, March 25). Major mental illness no hurdle for weight loss. Futurity. Retrieved April 2, 2013, from http://www.futurity.org/health-medicine/major-mental-illness-no-hurdle-for-weight-loss/

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