People living with serious mental illness (SMI) are at greater risk of becoming overweight and experiencing associated health problems, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, contributing to low quality of life.

Overweight and obesity rates in people with SMI have been reported to be between 46% and 79% [1].

Causes of obesity are multifactorial. Those living with SMI have heightened risks due to the impact of anti-psychotic medication (most commonly, weight gain), a poor diet, less active lifestyle and alcohol misuse, making it less likely to be able to focus on maintaining a healthy weight. Higher levels of social deprivation and unemployment compound these risks.

Weight gain is more rapid and severe in younger people with first episode psychosis with limited previous exposure to antipsychotic medication [2]. A study looking at first episode psychosis found that within 12 months of starting antipsychotic treatment the proportion of people with SMI who were overweight rose from 17% [3].

Recommended actions to take

We have developed key recommendations that will support system change and effectively address the SMI mortality gap. Follow the link is for more information to support you:


[1] (2003) McCreadie, R. Diet, smoking and cardiovascular risk in people with schizophrenia. Br. J. Psychiatry 183, 534–539

[2] (2014) Bradshaw, T., Mairs, H. Obesity and Serious Mental Ill Health: A Critical Review of the Literature. Healthcare,2: 166-182

[3] (2008) Kahn, R et al. Effectiveness of antipsychotic drugs in first-episode schizophrenia and schizophreniform disorder: An open randomized clinical trial. Lancet, 371, 1085–1097.




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