Preliminary findings regarding overweight and obesity in pediatric bipolar disorder

J Clin Psychiatry. 2008 Dec;69(12):1953-9. doi: 10.4088/jcp.v69n1215. Epub 2008 Nov 18.


Objective: Overweight/obesity is highly prevalent among adults with bipolar disorder and has been associated with illness severity. Little is known regarding overweight/obesity among youth with bipolar disorder.

Method: Subjects were 348 youths aged 7 to 17 years who met DSM-IV criteria for bipolar I or bipolar II disorder or study-operationalized criteria for bipolar disorder not otherwise specified and were enrolled in the Course and Outcome of Bipolar Illness in Youth study. Age- and sex-adjusted body mass index was computed according to International Obesity Task Force cut points, based on self- and parent-reported height and weight, to determine overweight/obesity. The study was conducted from October 2000 to July 2006.

Results: Overweight/obesity was prevalent among 42% of subjects. The most robust predictors of overweight/obesity in a logistic regression model were younger age, nonwhite race, lifetime physical abuse, substance use disorders, psychiatric hospitalizations, and exposure to ≥ 2 medication classes associated with weight gain.

Conclusions: The prevalence of overweight/obesity among youth with bipolar disorder may be modestly greater than in the general population. Moreover, similar to adults, overweight/obesity among youth with bipolar disorder may be associated with increased psychiatric burden. These preliminary findings underscore the importance of early identification of overweight/obesity among youth with bipolar disorder. Future studies are needed to clarify the direction of the associations between overweight/obesity and the identified predictors and to compare the prevalence of overweight/obesity among youth with bipolar disorder versus other psychiatric disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Antimanic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antimanic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antipsychotic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bipolar Disorder / drug therapy
  • Bipolar Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Body Height
  • Body Weight
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / statistics & numerical data
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / chemically induced
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Overweight / chemically induced
  • Overweight / epidemiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Statistics as Topic


  • Antimanic Agents
  • Antipsychotic Agents