Obesity is a significant health concern, and it is especially prevalent among people with severe mental illness. Studies have shown that individuals with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorders, or first-episode psychosis are two to three times more likely to be overweight or obese than the general population. This increased risk of obesity is associated with significant morbidity and premature mortality, making it a severe public health issue.
Liraglutide is a medication that has been approved for the treatment of obesity in the general population. It is a once-daily injectable drug that activates GLP-1 receptors, which regulate appetite and food intake. Given its effectiveness in treating obesity, there is potential for liraglutide to be used in people with severe mental illness who are struggling with obesity.
In a clinical trial, researchers evaluated the feasibility and acceptability of using liraglutide (3 mg) to treat obesity in people with severe mental illness. The study involved conducting qualitative interviews with a sample of individuals with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorders, or first-episode psychosis who were overweight or obese and had received daily injections of liraglutide (3 mg) in a randomized controlled pilot study. Interviews were conducted with healthcare professionals to assess the feasibility of delivering the intervention in routine care.
The study results showed that liraglutide (3 mg) was generally well-tolerated and acceptable to the participants. Despite initial reservations about injections, most of those who completed the trial reported no challenges in the timing or administering of the injections. The participants reported feeling despondent about the weight gain associated with their prior medication, and they found that liraglutide helped them to lose weight and improve their quality of life. The healthcare professionals reported challenges with recruitment, but overall, the study was a positive experience for the participants.
In conclusion, the study suggests that liraglutide (3 mg) is an acceptable therapy for obesity in people with severe mental illness. The medication was well-tolerated with limited side effects, and the weight loss had significant quality-of-life benefits. Further research is needed to confirm these findings and assess liraglutide's long-term effectiveness in this population. Nonetheless, this study provides hope that individuals with severe mental illness who struggle with obesity may have a new treatment option to improve their health and well-being.