Obesity 4 times more likely in people with schizophrenia

Individuals with schizophrenia are four times more likely to develop abdominal obesity - a condition that is characterized by excess fat around the waist and carries with it a high risk for diabetes.

Researchers from the University Psychiatric Centre KU Leuven in Belgium found that these individuals are also at a higher risk for other cardio-metabolic problems, including high cholesterol and metabolic syndrome.

Multi-episode patients face greatest risk

Data from over 130 studies and 185,606 patients with schizophrenia was analyzed, revealing that diabetes risk and hypertension is nearly double for patients with the condition.

The study also revealed that patients with multi-episode schizophrenia were 4.43 times more likely to have abdominal obesity than controls, and this same population also had a higher risk for health problems than first-episode or drug-naive patients, the research found.

Interventions

Researchers have found that many schizophrenia patients gain weight when taking second-generation antipsychotic medications. The drugs are highly effective at controlling symptoms, but they may pose health risks for schizophrenics already battling extra pounds.

To combat the problem, the researchers propose that schizophrenia patients regularly have their waist circumference measured. Monitoring fasting glucose, triglyceride, HDL cholesterol and hemoglobin A1C levels would also be helpful, they concluded.

Additionally, routine screening of cardiovascular risk factors could help create a "risk profile" for individuals with a family or personal history of certain health problems.

“This risk profile should afterwards be used as a basis for ongoing monitoring, treatment selection and management,” the researchers wrote.

More information about the study can be found in the journal World Psychiatry.

Source: Psych Central

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