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Prevalence of Overweight and Obesity in Bipolar Patients

J Clin Psychiatry 2000;61:179-184

Background: Patients who receive pharmacologic treatment for bipolar illness frequently gain weight. This study evaluated the prevalence of overweight and obesity in an unselected group of bipolar patients and matched reference subjects.

Method: The prevalence of overweight, obesity, and central adiposity was evaluated in 89 euthymic bipolar (DSM-IV) patients and 445 reference subjects, matched for age and sex, using a cross-sectional study design.

Results: Female patients were more often overweight and obese than female reference subjects (chi2 = 9.18, df = 2, p = .01). The frequency of overweight was similar in male patients and male reference subjects, but male patients were more likely to be obese. Patients were more centrally obese than the general population in women (chi2 = 32.21, df = 1, p = 2 = 8.81, df = 1, p = .003). Patients treated with antipsychotic drugs were more obese than patients not receiving these drugs (chi2 = 4.7, df = 1, p = .03).

Conclusion: Body fat is more centrally distributed in pharmacologically treated bipolar patients than in matched population controls. Obesity is more prevalent in patients than in the general population. Obesity prevalence is clearly related to the administration of antipsychotic drugs.