Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Changes in body weight, body composition and cardiovascular risk factors after long-term nutritional intervention in patients with severe mental illness: an observational study

Maria Hassapidou1*, Konstantina Papadimitriou1, Niki Athanasiadou1, Valasia Tokmakidou1, Ioannis Pagkalos2, George Vlahavas1 and Fotini Tsofliou1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, School of Food Technology and Nutrition, Technological Educational Institute of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece

2 Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, 54 006 Thessaloniki, Greece

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BMC Psychiatry 2011, 11:31  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-11-31

Published: 18 February 2011



Compared with the general population, individuals with severe mental illness (SMI) have increased prevalence rates of obesity and greater risk for cardiovascular disease. This study aimed to investigate the effects of a long term nutritional intervention on body weight, body fat and cardiovascular risk factors in a large number of patients with SMI.


Nine hundred and eighty-nine patients with a mean ± S.D age of 40 ± 11.7 yrs participated in a 9 mo nutritional intervention which provided personalised dietetic treatment and lifestyle counselling every two weeks. Patients had an average body mass index (BMI) of 34.3 ± 7.1 kg.m-2 and body weight (BW) of 94.9 ± 21.7 kg. Fasted blood samples were collected for the measurement of glucose, total cholesterol, triglycerides and HDL- cholesterol. All measurements were undertaken at baseline and at 3 mo, 6 mo and 9 mo of the nutritional intervention.


Four hundred and twenty-three patients of 989 total patients' cases (42.8%) dropped out within the first 3 months. Two hundred eighty-five completed 6 months of the program and 145 completed the entire 9 month nutritional intervention. There were progressive statistically significant reductions in mean weight, fat mass, waist and BMI throughout the duration of monitoring (p < 0.001). The mean final weight loss was 9.7 kg and BMI decreased to 30.7 kg.m-2 (p < 0.001). The mean final fat mass loss was 8.0 kg and the mean final waist circumference reduction was 10.3 cm (p < 0.001) compared to baseline. Significant and continual reductions were observed in fasting plasma glucose, total cholesterol and triglycerides concentrations throughout the study (p < 0.001).


The nutritional intervention produced significant reductions in body weight, body fat and improved the cardiometabolic profile in patients with SMI. These findings indicate the importance of weight-reducing nutritional intervention in decreasing the cardiovascular risk in patients with SMI.