Psychological Medicine

The unhealthy lifestyle of people with schizophrenia

S. BROWN a1c1, J. BIRTWISTLE a1, L. ROE a1 and C. THOMPSON a1
a1 Department of Psychiatry, University of Southampton; and Department of Public Health and Primary Care, University of Oxford


Background. Schizophrenia has a high natural mortality of a largely environmental aetiology. There is, however, little research about possible risk factors. This study measured the diet, cigarette and alcohol use, exercise and obesity of a cohort of people with schizophrenia and compared results to general population rates.

Methods. Semi-structured interview using validated research instruments on 102 middle-aged subjects with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, living in the community. Results were compared to general population norms using standard statistical tests.

Results. The subjects ate a diet higher in fat and lower in fibre than the general population. They took little exercise but were not significantly more obese. They smoked heavily but drank less alcohol. Most differences remained significant after controlling for social class.

Conclusions. People with schizophrenia have an unhealthy lifestyle, which probably contributes to the excess mortality of the disease. They are therefore an appropriate target group for health promotion interventions.

c1 Address for correspondence: Dr Steve Brown, Department of Psychiatry, Royal South Hants Hospital, Brinton's Terrace, Southampton SO14 0YG.