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EDOR researchers comment on link between mental health, diabetes and obesity

Wednesday 17 July 2019 3:43pm

Edgar Diabetes and Obesity Research Centre investigators Professors Jim Mann and Jeremy Krebs, have been asked for expert comment on a recent report in The Lancet showing that people with mental illness could experience a gap in life expectancy of around 20 years.

The Lancet Psychiatry Commission: a blueprint for protecting physical health in people with mental illness report found that a broad range of mental illnesses are associated with a lifelong burden of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Professor Mann says that this finding should be of enormous concern to Government, all agencies and individuals involved in the health care of those with mental illness, and indeed all New Zealanders. He notes that while an improved approach to the management of mental illness, and enhancing equity in health outcomes, are clearly stated Government priorities in health care, preventative measures are not.

"...the facilities available for lifestyle management (including dietary and physical activity advice and support) which is the cornerstone of preventive treatment along with smoking cessation are limited, if not non-existent, in most of New Zealand and supportive public health measures are equally lacking."

Professor Krebs, an endocrinologist at Capital and Coast District Health Board, regularly sees the link between mental health disorders, obesity and type 2 diabetes in his clinical practice. He is pleased that the importance of the effects of psychiatric medication on weight and metabolic health are being recognised as a priority area in this report, with calls to implement preventative interventions rather than wait for weight gain and diabetes to ensue.

Read more reaction to The Lancet report