Meal replacements as a weight loss tool in a population with severe mental illness

Eat Behav. 2015 Dec;19:61-4. doi: 10.1016/j.eatbeh.2015.06.009. Epub 2015 Jul 2.


Weight gain and worsening metabolic parameters are often side effects of antipsychotic medications used by individuals with severe mental illness. To address this, a randomized, controlled research study of a behavioral weight management program for individuals with severe mental illness was undertaken to assess its efficacy. Patients unable to meet weight loss goals during the first portion of the year-long study were given the option of using meal replacement shakes in an effort to assist with weight loss. Specific requirements for use of meal replacement shakes were specified in the study protocol; only five patients were able to use the shakes in accordance with the protocol and lose weight while improving metabolic parameters. Case studies of two subjects are presented, illustrating the challenges and obstacles they faced, as well as their successes. Taking responsibility for their own weight loss, remaining motivated through the end of the study, and incorporating the meal replacement shakes into a daily routine were factors found in common with these patients. Use of meal replacements shakes with this population may be effective.

Keywords: Diet; Meal replacements; Mental illness; Nutrition; Obesity; Weight management.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Food, Formulated*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / diet therapy*
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Severity of Illness Index*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Weight Loss*