People with mental illness are at a greater risk of developing Diabetes

Antipsychotic medications prescribed for conditions like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder may cause weight gain and impact cholesterol levels and insulin resistance, hence they are at a greater risk

Published: 14th June 2018 10:55 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th June 2018 10:55 AM   |  A+A-

Image used for representational purpose only.


WASHINGTON D.C.: A new study has proven that people with mental illness are twice more likely to have Type 2 diabetes, with even higher risks among patients who are African American or Hispanic.

Among more than 15,000 patients with severe mental illness, 28.1 per cent had Type 2 diabetes, the researchers reported in the study. In contrast, 12.2 per cent of the general population is estimated to have the disease.

Among racial minorities with severe mental illness, the incidences were 36.9 per cent for Hispanics, 36.3 per cent for African Americans and 30.7 per cent for Asians - versus 25.1 per cent for whites.

"Antipsychotic medications prescribed for conditions like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder may cause weight gain and impact cholesterol levels and insulin resistance," said Mangurian.

Additionally, people with severe mental illness have more tenuous life circumstances, including food insecurity, low income, and unstable housing situations, which all increase their risk of diabetes. Stressors such as structural racism compound these problems in minorities, according to the researchers.

Prediabetes, in which blood sugar levels are elevated, was also found to be high among people with the severe mental illness. Close to half were found to have prediabetes.

The condition was more common among minorities and may emerge as early as at the age of 20.

The study utilised a database of health information from patients with the severe mental illness.

"We used Kaiser Permanente's extensive electronic health record data to improve our understanding of the burden of diabetes and prediabetes in people with severe mental illness and develop insights on how to address racial/ethnic and age disparities in this high-risk population," said senior author Julie Schmittdiel.

The results of the study prove that every person suffering from a mental disease should undergo screening for diabetes. The only way to prevent diabetes is to get an early screening for pre-diabetes.

The study findings appear in the journal 'Diabetes Care'. 

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