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Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2006 Aug 30;30(6):1150-4. Epub 2006 May 2.

Posttraumatic stress disorder and body mass index in military veterans. Preliminary findings.

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Psychiatry Service, Hunter Holmes McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Richmond, Virginia, USA.



Current management of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) focuses on the psychiatric parameters of this condition. Little has been written about co-morbid overweight and obesity in PTSD.


We used the database of the recently constituted PTSD program at the Hunter Holmes McGuire Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Richmond, Virginia to assess and better understand the prevalence and severity of overweight and obesity among military veterans with PTSD. Variables assessed included age, decade of life, height, weight, sex, race, and severity and chronicity of PTSD. We used PTSD CheckList-Military Version (PCL-M) to assess current complaints and service-connected disability (SCD) to estimate the long-term severity of PTSD.


Of the 221 male veterans extracted from our PTSD database for purposes of this study, 144 (65.2%) were in the age range of 50 to 59 years consistent with Vietnam veterans dominating our study population. Their mean body mass index (BMI) was 30.2+/-5.8 kg/m(2) placing the typical veteran in the obese range. Far exceeding the current US population rate of 64.5%, 82.8% of our study population was either overweight or obese. Our sample had BMI measurements greater than those reported for non-PTSD veterans and also BMI measurements reported in the literature for veterans with PTSD. Current (PCL-M) and long-term (SCD) markers of PTSD did not relate to obesity.


The prevalence of overweight and obesity among our veterans with PTSD far exceeded current US population findings and those of other veteran groups with and without PTSD. PTSD symptoms, whether assessed acutely or chronically, did not explain our findings. Prospective studies of PTSD and comorbidity are needed using larger study populations to better understand the relationships among PTSD, stress, and obesity.

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