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Original Article

The Risk of Overweight in Children and Adolescents with Major Mental Illness

Mehrul Hasnain, MD, W Victor R. Vieweg, MD, John M. Hettema, MD, PhD, David Colton, PhD, Antony Fernandez, MD, Anand K. Pandurangi, MD
Volume: 101 Issue: 4 April, 2008

Abstract:

Objectives: To survey the charts of youths with major mental illness who may constitute a high-risk group (HRG) for overweight.


Methods: We reviewed the charts of youths admitted to a public sector psychiatric hospital. For the 795 cases of patients 6 to 18 years old identified as the study cohort, we derived body mass index percentiles using the Centers for Disease Control Epi Info software. We defined a HRG as those youths who were “overweight” and “at risk for overweight” and compared them with national measurements. We also determined the frequency of psychiatric diagnoses and psychotropic drugs use.


Results: A total of 51.8% were in the HRG compared with the national average of 35.2% for the 6 to 19 years age group of the latest available National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. We noted an increase in the prevalence of mood disorders and psychosis with increasing age. Many (45.3%) were discharged on medications that can potentially cause moderate-to-severe weight gain.


Conclusions: Youths with major psychiatric illnesses constitute a HRG for overweight.


Key Points


* Youths with major mental illness may constitute a high-risk group for overweight.


* Over half (51.8%) of the youths in our study were in the high-risk group (defined as those who were “overweight” and “at risk for overweight”) compared with the calculated national average of 35.2% for approximately the same age group.


* Many youths with major mental illness might be on psychotropic medications that can potentially cause moderate to large weight gain.


* Youths with major mental illness should be monitored for overweight.

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