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Schizophr Res. 2002 Jun 1;55(3):277-84.

Changes in body mass index for individuals with and without schizophrenia, 1987-1996.

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  • 1Office of Research Support, Beth Israel Medical Center, New York, NY, USA.


The advent of the novel or atypical antipsychotic drugs has improved the treatment and quality of life for many individuals. However, many of these newer agents confer a degree of weight gain that is both greater than conventional antipsychotics and of a clinically meaningful magnitude. To better place this issue into perspective, we evaluated body mass index (BMI; kg/m2) levels and the prevalence of overweight and obesity among schizophrenic versus non-schizophrenic individuals among nationally representative samples of the US adult population and evaluated whether there were changes in these rates during the decade from 1987 to 1996, a period in which use of novel/atypical agents increased. Results showed that mean BMI for individuals with schizophrenia is significantly higher than individuals who are not schizophrenic. The non-schizophrenic population shows steady and significant gains in BMI from 1987 to 1996 both as a whole and when stratified by gender and age. In contrast, time trends among the population of schizophrenic individuals show a more complex pattern. Specifically, for most groups, there is little evidence of a general trend in BMI over time. However, among females with schizophrenia ages 18-30, BMI has increased dramatically and significantly causing a much higher obesity rate among young women with schizophrenia in recent years relative to their non-schizophrenic counterparts. The mechanism that underlies this weight age and sex specific time trend is unclear.

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