When you’re severely depressed, or suffering from another mental disorder, healthy eating and consistent exercise are possibly the last things on your mind.
But a new study suggests that it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, overweight and obese people with severe mental illnesses can successfully lose weight with the right weight loss program.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that obese and overweight people with serious mental illnesses in an intervention group were able to lose on average seven pounds over a period of 18 months.
Also, 37.8 percent of participants in the intervention group lost at least 5 percent of their beginning weight, compared to only 22.7 percent of the participants in the control group.
The intervention group participants also had a higher percentage of people who lost weight or at least kept to their initial weight (63.9 percent compared to 49.2 percent of the control group).
There were 291 participants with mental disorders like major depression, schizophrenia, a schizoaffective disorder or bipolar disorder. All participants were either overweight or obese, and they were recruited from community psychiatric rehabilitation outpatient programs.
The intervention group in the study consisted of participants going to group exercise classes, as well as going to individual and group sessions that focused on weight management.
Sessions focused on topics like healthy diet, including a reduction of sugary foods, an increase in healthy foods like fruits and vegetables, and a reduction in overall calories.
Participants in the control group were given information about physical activity and nutrition, and they received general health classes.
The study mentioned that obesity is more common in people with severe mental illnesses, especially due to weight gain caused by medication, and a lack of exercise and unhealthy eating.
There are other challenges, such as memory impairment and inadequate body functioning, as well as psychiatric symptoms, which can slow down the new learning processes associated with weight loss programs.