Washington, Jan 17 : Researchers from University of Laval's Faculty of Medicine and Robert-Giffard Hospital have revealed that weight gain due antipsychotic drugs can be combated through a specially designed weight control program.
The research led by psychiatrist Marie-Josee Poulin and Kinesiologist Angelo Tremblay emphasized on the importance of a weight control program designed specifically for people who take antipsychotic drugs.
The study, testing the effectiveness of weight control program assessed a group of 59 patients treated for mental health problems with schizophrenia and psycho-affective or bipolar disorders and had been using antipsychotic drugs for almost three years on average.
The patients were asked to attend a 90-minute educational session on healthy eating and physical activity and were then asked to take part in a two one-hour workout sessions every week for an 18-month period.
The workouts included both aerobic and muscle-building exercises and were supervised by kinesiologists.
The team regularly evaluated the biochemical and physical parameters odf the participants and later compared them to those of a control group of 51 sedentary or moderately active patients also taking antipsychotic medication.
The findings revealed that the people who took part in the weight control program had decreased their average weight, waist size and body mass index by 4 pct
Their levels of good cholesterol went up 21 pct while bad cholesterol went down 14pct and their triglycerides levels declined by 26 pct.
On the other hand, control group subjects' weight, waist size and body mass index increased on average more than 4 pct and their levels of bad cholesterol and triglycerides also went up by 15 pct and 12 pct respectively.
"This is encouraging news for people suffering from mental illness because weight gain induced by antipsychotic drugs has several negative effects: it disrupts the lipid profile, increases cardiovascular and diabetes risk, and interferes with effective treatment follow-up," said Jean-Philippe Chaput, co-author of the study.
"Our results highlight the importance of a weight control program designed specifically for people who take antipsychotic drugs. In an ideal world, every prescription for antipsychotic medication should be accompanied by a prescription for physical training," concluded the researcher.
The findings appear in a recent edition of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry.