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Obes Res. 2003 Nov;11(11):1369-75.

Relationship of psychiatric diagnosis and weight loss maintenance in obese breast cancer survivors.

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Department of Psychiatry, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, USA.



Obese breast cancer survivors are a unique population for weight loss counseling because both obesity and a diagnosis of breast cancer can increase the risk of depression. In this pilot study, weight loss maintenance was examined in obese breast cancer survivors with relationship to psychiatric diagnosis.


Forty-eight subjects were enrolled. The intervention, which used individualized counseling for diet and exercise, lasted 24 months. After a 6-month period of no contact with study subjects, a follow-up body weight was obtained at 30 months.


The nine subjects who dropped out of the study before 12 months all failed to complete a structured psychiatric interview. Of the remaining 39 subjects, 9 had major depressive disorder, and 10 had a definable psychiatric disorder of lesser severity such as adjustment disorder. Subjects with any type of psychiatric diagnosis displayed significantly less weight loss at the 12-month time-point than those with no diagnosis (6.3% vs. 12.6% loss of baseline weight, respectively). At the 30-month follow-up visit, subjects with any psychiatric disorder had a mean weight loss of 1.2% of baseline weight compared with 7.8% weight loss in subjects with no diagnosis.


These results suggest that the presence of psychiatric disorders can interfere with weight loss. Therefore, recognition and treatment of psychiatric disorders may be important in attempts at weight reduction, and this will be especially important in populations such as cancer survivors, who seem to have higher rates of depression and other disorders than the general population.

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