Dietary advice for people with schizophrenia

The physical health of people with serious mental illness is often poor. Mortality levels remain about twice those of the general population. They are at greater risk of health problems such as heart disease, respiratory problems, and diabetes. The factors contributing to these health problems include higher levels of smoking, obesity, physical inactivity, and a nutritionally poor intake of food. The aim of this review was to determine whether offering dietary advice to people with schizophrenia would lead to an improvement in their dietary intake and health.

We ran a search for trials in 2013 using the Cochrane Schizophrenia Group's specialised register of trials. We looked for trials that randomised people with schizophrenia to receive either dietary advice plus their normal treatment or their normal treatment but without dietary advice. We did not include trials where dietary advice was given in combination with another treatment, for example, with exercise therapy.

We were unable to include any trials. Currently there is no good quality evidence available to help people determine if dietary advice is effective for people with schizophrenia. More research is needed.

Authors' conclusions: 

Dietary advice has been shown to improve the dietary intake of the general population. Research is needed to determine whether dietary advice can have a similar benefit in people with serious mental illness.

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Background: 

People with serious mental illness have consistently higher levels of mortality and morbidity than the general population. They have greater levels of cardiovascular disease, metabolic disease, diabetes, and respiratory illness. Although genetics may have a role in the physical health problems of these people, lifestyle and environmental factors such as smoking, obesity, poor diet, and low levels of physical activity play a prominent part.

Objectives: 

To review the effects of dietary advice for schizophrenia and schizophrenia-like psychosis.

Search strategy: 

We searched the Cochrane Schizophrenia Group's Trials Register (September 09, 2013 and February 24, 2016).

Selection criteria: 

We planned to include all randomised clinical trials focusing on dietary advice versus standard care.

Data collection and analysis: 

The review authors (RP, KTP) independently screened search results but did not identify any studies that fulfilled the review’s criteria.

Main results: 

We did not identify any studies that met our inclusion criteria.

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