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11-10-2010 | Mental health | Article

Weight gain linked to functional impairment in BD-I


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MedWire News: Weight gain is a significant, but often overlooked, cause of functional impairment in patients with bipolar I disorder (BD-I), say Canadian researchers.

"Up to 75% of patients with BD-I are overweight or obese," explain Lakshmi Yatham (University of British Columbia, Vancouver) and colleagues.

However, they add that although obesity in the general population is consistently associated with functional impairment, "the relationship between weight gain and functional outcomes in BD-I has received little attention."

To address this, the team studied 46 BD-I patients, aged 14-35 years, who had recently recovered from their first manic episode.

Over a follow-up period of 12 months, the patients were assessed for clinically significant weight gain (CSWG), defined as at least a 7% increase in weight, and the amount of time spent with mood symptoms, which was assessed using standard clinical rating scales and National Institute of Mental Health Life Charts.

The patients' functioning at 12 months was measured using the multidimensional Scale of Independent Functioning (MSIF).

In total, 19 (41%) patients experienced CSWG over the 12-month study period.

The researchers found no significant differences in mood symptom frequency or duration between patients who did and did not experience CSWG during follow-up.

However, patients who experienced CSWG had significantly greater impairments in global functioning at 12 months than those who did not, with MSIF scores of 2.26 versus 1.74, respectively.

The researchers note in the journal Bipolar Disorders that functional impairments associated with CSWG were independent of recent or current mood symptoms.

Yatham and team conclude: "Weight gain may be an overlooked, but potentially modifiable, cause of functional impairment in BD-I."

They add: "Clinicians should consider the possibility and consequences of weight gain when making even the earliest treatment decisions for patients with BD-I change."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2010

By Mark Cowen

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