Body mass, cardiovascular risk and metabolic characteristics of young persons presenting for mental healthcare in Sydney, Australia

Elizabeth M. Scott, Daniel F. Hermens, Django White, Sharon L. Naismith, Jeanne GeHue, Bradley G. Whitwell, Nick Glozier, Ian B. Hickie*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)


Objectives: To determine the body mass, cardiovascular and metabolic characteristics of young people presenting for mental healthcare. Design: Cross-sectional assessments of body mass, cardiovascular and metabolic risk factors. Setting: Two primary-care based sites in Sydney, Australia for young people in the early stages of mental disorders. Participants: A clinical sample of young people (12-30 years) with mental health problems. Outcome measures: Daily smoking rates, body mass index (BMI), blood glucose and lipids, blood pressure (BP) and pulse rate. Results: Of 1005 young people who had their BMI determined (62% female; 19.0±3.5 years), three quarters (739/1005) also had BP recordings and one-third (298/1005) had blood sampling. Clinically, 775 were assigned to one of three diagnostic categories (anxious-depression: n=541; mania-fatigue, n=104; developmental-psychotic n=130). The profile of BMI categories approximated that of the comparable segments of the Australian population. Older age, lower levels of social functioning and higher systolic BP were all associated with high BMI. In a subset (n=129), current use of any psychotropic medication was associated (p<0.05) with increased BMI. Almost one-third of cases were current daily smokers (compared to population rate of 11%). Males had a higher proportion of raised glucose and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) compared to females (9.3% and 34.1% vs 2.1% and 5.9%, respectively). Overall, there was no relationship between BMI and fasting glucose but significant relationships with triglycerides and HDL were noted. Furthermore, there were no significant relationships between diagnostic subgroup and metabolic profiles. Conclusions: Daily smoking rates are increased among young people presenting for mental healthcare. However, these young people do not demonstrate adverse cardiometabolic profiles. The high levels of smoking, and association of BMI with adverse social circumstances, suggest that risk factors for chronic disease are already present and likely to be compounded by medication and social disadvantage.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere007066
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 27 Mar 2015
Externally publishedYes

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