Skip to main content

19-03-2012 | Mental health | Article

Schizophrenia patients exhibit poor diet and exercise habits


Free abstract

MedWire News: Patients with schizophrenia have poorer diets and engage in less physical activity than mentally healthy individuals, US research shows.

Previous studies have shown that patients with schizophrenia have, on average, poorer metabolic profiles than mentally healthy individuals, and are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease, explain Joseph Ratliff (Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut) and team in Comprehensive Psychiatry.

They add that, in addition to pharmacologic treatment, diet and activity levels may contribute to this increased risk.

To investigate, the researchers studied 130 patients (74 men), aged an average of 45.3 years, with schizophrenia and 250 body mass index-, age-, and gender-matched mentally healthy individuals who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys 2005-2008.

Each participant completed a 24-hour dietary recall questionnaire, and their waist circumference, blood pressure, lipid, glycosylated hemoglobin, and insulin levels were recorded.

They were also asked how often they engaged in moderate ("makes you breathe somewhat harder than normal") or vigorous ("makes you breathe much harder than normal") physical activity for at least 15 minutes during the past week.

The researchers found that schizophrenia patients had significantly higher mean levels of glycosylated hemoglobin and insulin than controls, at 6.4% versus 6.0%, and 22.0 versus 16.9 µU/L, respectively.

Patients with schizophrenia also had a greater mean waist circumference than controls, at 119.2 versus 115.1 cm, as well as higher mean diastolic blood pressure, at 80.0 versus 74.7 mmHg.

Although total energy intake was similar in the groups, schizophrenia patients consumed significantly greater amounts of sugar and fat over 24 hours than controls, at 112.0 versus 72.6 g, and 94.9 versus 83.9 g, respectively.

Furthermore, schizophrenia patients engaged in less frequent bouts of moderate exercise than controls, at 2.5 versus 4.5 times per week. But there was no significant between-group differences regarding the frequency of vigorous exercise, at 0.54 versus 0.69 times per week.

Ratliff et al conclude: "These findings suggest that the dietary and physical activity habits of individuals with schizophrenia contribute to an adverse metabolic profile."

They add: "Increased opportunities for physical activity and access to healthy foods for individuals with schizophrenia may ease the burden of disease."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Mark Cowen

Related topics