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Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 1998 Feb;32(1):77-81.

Anthropometry and adiposity in a group of people with chronic mental illness.

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  • 1Physiotherapy Department, Wolston Park Hospital Complex, Wacol, Queensland, Australia.



The prevalence of excess body weight has been reported as two to four times greater in the chronic mentally ill than in the general population. However, there has been a paucity of body composition research with this population. The purpose of this study was to compare with population data the prevalence and distribution of body fat in a group of chronic mentally ill individuals.


An anthropometric profile consisting of height, weight, waist and hip girths was completed on 29 males and 23 females.


Consistent with other groups with excess adiposity, measures of skinfold thickness were generally unreliable. The biceps was the only site where a reliable skinfold measure was possible in all subjects. More than half of the males and three-quarters of the females had a waist circumference in excess of 100 cm.


There were significantly higher levels of relative body weight and excess abdominal adiposity in the study group compared with the wider population. A brief anthropometric protocol of waist and hip girths and biceps skinfold in addition to height and weight, rather than the use of weight alone as an indicator of adiposity, is recommended.

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