To assess the prevalence and clinical correlates of overweight/obesity (OW/OB) among adolescents with bipolar disorder, Benjamin Goldstein, M.D., Ph.D., of the University of Toronto and colleagues analyzed data collected as part of the National Comorbidity Survey-Adolescent Supplement, a face-to-face survey of mental disorders from 2001 to 2004.
The sample included youth aged 13 to 17 with bipolar I or bipolar II (n=295), major depressive disorder (n=1,112), or controls with neither mood disorder (n=8,716). Weight status was defined based on standard categories of obesity (body mass index [BMI] equal or greater than 95 percentile) or overweight (BMI 85 to less than 95 percentile) versus normal weight (BMI 5 to less than 85 percentile) or underweight (BMI less than 5 percentile) using the gender-specific BMI-for-age Centers for Disease Control and Prevention growth charts, compared against the percentile for children of the same sex and age in the United States.
The authors found that there were no significant differences in weight category across the groups; for example, the prevalence of obesity was 17.1% for adolescents with BD, 17.1% for adolescents with major depressive disorder, and 15.1% for adolescents with neither condition.
Additional analysis revealed that among youth with BD, being overweight/obese (OW/OB) was associated with an increased risk of suicide attempts, physical or sexual abuse, binge eating or bulimia, and conduct disorder.
“The similar prevalence of OW/OB among adolescents with and without BD suggests that this potent association in adults likely comprises a consequence of BD or its correlates,” the authors wrote. “In contrast, the strong association of OW/OB with proxies for depression severity, including suicide attempts and hospitalization, is already evident even in this young, non-clinical sample. Studies are warranted to determine whether early intervention of OW/OB in BD may optimize both physical and mental health.”
For related information, see the Psychiatric News article “Bipolar Patients More Likely to Take Medications for Comorbid Conditions.”