How is obesity related to bipolar disorder?

Obesity is defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health. A crude population measure of obesity is the body mass index (BMI), which is a person’s weight divided by the square of his or her height. A person with a BMI of 30 or more on metric measures is generally considered obese. Being obese is a major risk factor for diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

People with a severe mental illness are at increased risk of obesity, which may be due to genetic and/or socio-economic factors, lifestyle choices, and metabolic effects of many psychotropic medications.

What is the evidence for obesity in people with bipolar disorder?

Moderate quality evidence suggests a small, significant increase in the rate of obesity in people with bipolar disorder compared to people without bipolar disorder. Moderate to low quality evidence suggests obesity in people with bipolar disorder is associated with poorer symptoms and functioning.

Weight loss in people with bipolar disorder and people without bipolar disorder is similar to the general population following bariatric surgery, with no differences in psychiatric symptoms.

April 2020

Last updated at: 3:25 am, 30th April 2020
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