In 2016, 33.9 percent of transition-aged women (between ages 18 and 20) were overweight or obese and 38 percent of transition-aged men were overweight or obese. These numbers increase between ages 20-25; 39.1 percent of women were overweight or obese and 48.5 percent of men were overweight or obese. People with serious mental illness are more likely to be obese, and individuals who are obese and have mental illness face greater levels of stigma and discrimination from peers, employers, and healthcare providers. Common causes of weight gain for people with serious mental illness include medication side effects, activity level, diet, and stress.

This two-page fact sheet, developed by the Program to Achieve Wellness, encourages medical, mental health, and substance use disorder professionals to address the overall health and wellness of transition-aged patients with obesity. Addressing obesity as a singular issue will not contribute to overall wellness or sustain behavioral changes in the treatment process. Making the patient aware of the negative emotions and attitudes towards weight and addressing them with family-based and cognitive-behavioral treatments can correct negative thought patterns and behaviors. Addressing these factors can improve the mental health of individuals with obesity and serious mental illness and can also help improve self-esteem. Family involvement combined with patient education can activate and empower the patient to engage in a healthy lifestyle. With peer support, there is an increased likelihood of sustained behavioral change.

This resource was first shared in 2018.

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