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Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2015 Jun;49(6):566-72. doi: 10.1177/0004867414565479. Epub 2015 Jan 13.

Eating behavior and obesity in bipolar disorder.

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Department of Psychology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, USA
Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital, Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.



Individuals with bipolar disorder are more frequently overweight or obese than the general population, but the reasons for this association are unknown. The aim of this study is to further understand the etiology of overweight and obesity in bipolar disorder.


We invited patients in a specialty outpatient bipolar clinic to complete the Eating Inventory. Patients provided self-reported restraint, disinhibition, and perceived hunger as well as general perceptions of dietary intake.


Sixty-two individuals (37 female) between the ages of 18 and 67 (M = 41.5, SD = 13.38) and with an average body mass index (BMI) of 27.18 (SD = 5.71) completed the survey. Disinhibition and perceived hunger were positively correlated with BMI and self-reported difficulty eating healthy foods. Restraint was positively correlated with healthy eating (ps < .05). Stepwise linear regressions revealed that hunger was the most significant predictor of BMI (F(1) = 8.134, p = .006). Those participants with bipolar I or II disorder reported greater hunger scores (p < .01) and difficulty eating healthily (p < .05) than those without a full diagnosis.


These results suggest that disinhibition and perception of hunger may be linked to the disproportionately high rate of obesity in bipolar disorder.


bipolar disorder; body mass index; eating pathology; weight gain

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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