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Obesity and Mental Health

Mental Health America staff and partners recently held a briefing entitled "Mental Health Conditions and Obesity - A Path to Excess Mortality."  Download the literature review that MHA conducted about this public health issue.   

MHA Congressional Briefing

Hosted by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA)

Wednesday, October 3, 12:00 - 1:00pm

430 Dirksen Senate Office Building

panelists at the obesity lit reviewAs evidenced by the literature on the nation's obesity crisis-including news reports and releases by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), academia, foundations and voluntary health organizations-the public health burden imposed by obesity is both multifaceted and far-reaching.

However, there is a critical population that is too often missing from the national dialogue surrounding the obesity epidemic: individuals with serious mental health disorders.

The National Institutes of Health has documented that, on average, Americans with major mental illness die 14 to 32 years earlier than the general population. The average life expectancy for people with major mental illness ranged from 49 to 60 years of age in the states they examined - a life span on par with many sub-Saharan African countries, including Sudan (58.6 years) and Ethiopia (52.9 years). The high prevalence of comorbid medical conditions among persons with severe mental illnesses is well documented and persons with mental illness have notably higher rates of metabolic disturbance including diabetes and obesity.

How is it possible to address this national crisis if one of the leading affected populations - people with serious mental illness (SMI) - is not part of the dialogue?

The distinguished panel that tackled this issue included leading researchers in this burgeoning field:

The time is ripe to address the interconnected challenges facing the mental health and addiction communities and those with chronic conditions.  Read the one-page document that summarizes the need.

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