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Prevalence of Overweight and Obesity in Adolescents With Severe Mental Illness: A Cross-Sectional Chart Review

Barbara L. Gracious, MD; Stephen R. Cook, MD, MPH; Ashley E. Meyer, BA; Madalina C. Chirieac, MD, MPH; Namrita Malhi, MD; Anthony T. Fischetti, BA; Teresa L. Finucane, MS; and Yan Ma, PhD

Published: May 4, 2010

Article Abstract

Objective: Pediatric obesity (body mass index [BMI]‘ ‰‘ ‰95th percentile for sex and age) and overweight (BMI‘ ‰‘ ‰85th percentile < 95% percentile) are priority public health targets for the prevention of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. We examined the prevalence and risk of overweight and obesity in adolescents with serious mental disorders.

Method: Height, weight, demographic, diagnostic, and treatment data were reviewed for 114 adolescents attending a partial hospitalization program over 18 consecutive months between January 2003 and July 2004. Sample data were compared to normative National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data and regional county data for BMI. Unadjusted odds ratios and their 95% CIs were calculated for each categorical risk factor using the χ2 test. A logistic regression model was conducted to detect the effects of these risk factors on the occurrence of overweight and obesity.

Results: The combined prevalence of overweight and obesity was 55.4% (n‘ ‰=‘ ‰63); the prevalence for obesity alone was 30% (n‘ ‰=‘ ‰34), approximately double the rate in national and county norms. Lack of private insurance, smoking, and antidepressant and antipsychotic treatment were associated with overweight and obese status.

Conclusions: Adolescents with severe mental illness are at increased risk for overweight and obesity. Identification of elevated BMI, associated risk factors, and efforts to prevent weight gain should begin at initiation of mental health treatment.

J Clin Psychiatry 2010;71(7):949-954

Submitted: December 23, 2008; accepted August 25, 2009.

Online ahead of print: May 4, 2010 (doi:10.4088/JCP.09m05033gre).

Contributing author: Barbara L. Gracious, MD, Department of Psychiatry, University of Rochester Medical Center, 300 Crittenden Blvd, Box PSYCH, Rochester, NY 14642 (

Volume: 71

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