Food and Behaviour Research

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Dietary intake profile of patients with schizophrenia

Henderson DC, Borba CP, Daley TB, Boxill R, Nguyen DD, Culhane MA, Louie P, Cather C, Eden Evins A, Freudenreich O, Taber SM, Goff DC. (2006) Ann Clin Psychiatry.  18(2): 99-105. 

Web URL: View this and related abstracts via PubMed here


BACKGROUND: The increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity has become a priority public health issue in the United States. Forty to 62% of people with schizophrenia are obese or overweight (1, 2). High morbidity and mortality in schizophrenia may be attributed to an unhealthy lifestyle such as poor diet, lack of exercise, smoking, and substance abuse (3). Obesity is associated with greater risk of developing hypertension, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, death, and reduced quality of life compared with that found in the general population (4, 5). We performed a cross-sectional study evaluating the dietary intake of patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder treated with atypical antipsychotic agents.

METHODS: Dietary intake of 88 patients from an urban community mental health clinic was measured using a four-day dietary record. Nutritional variables included total energy intake, fat, protein, carbohydrate, cholesterol, fiber, sucrose, folate, calcium, sodium, zinc, alcohol and caffeine. Data were compared to the general population using data matched for age, gender, and ethnicity from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 1999-2000.

RESULTS: The Body Mass Index (BMI) of the schizophrenia group (M = 31.3, SD = 12.67) was significantly greater than the NHANES group (M = 28.3, SD = 6.62) (p = .001). The schizophrenia group consumed significantly fewer calories, carbohydrate, protein, total fat, saturated fat, monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA), polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA), fiber, folate, sodium and alcohol and significantly more caffeine than the NHANES group.

CONCLUSIONS: The findings may suggest that obesity in schizophrenia patients is not solely related to food consumption, but perhaps other effects including medication side effects and reduced physical activity. Education and interventions for the schizophrenia population should focus more on overall lifestyle factors such as physical activity and healthy food choices.