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Bipolar disorder and adiposity: a study using whole body dual energy X-ray absorptiometry scans

  • Lana J. Williams (a1) (a2), Julie A. Pasco (a1), Felice N. Jacka (a1) (a2), Margaret J. Henry (a1), Seetal Dodd (a1) (a2), Geoffrey C. Nicholson (a3), Mark A. Kotowicz (a4) and Michael Berk (a1) (a2)...


Williams LJ, Pasco JA, Jacka FN, Henry MJ, Dodd S, Nicholson GC, Kotowicz MA, Berk M. Bipolar disorder and adiposity: a study using whole body dual energy X-ray absorptiometry scans.

Objective: Previous research has demonstrated a relationship between adiposity and bipolar disorder, although data are derived predominantly from patient samples and use indirect methods of assessing adiposity. This study investigated the association between bipolar disorder and several indices of adiposity, including body fat mass as measured by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), in a community-based sample.

Methods: In this study, 21 women with bipolar disorder and 523 healthy controls were drawn from an age-stratified, random, community-based sample of women (20–93 years) participating in the Geelong Osteoporosis Study. Bipolar disorder was diagnosed utilising a semi-structured clinical interview. Anthropometric measurements (weight, height, waist and hip circumference) were taken and fat mass was determined from whole body DXA scans (Lunar DPX-L).

Results Those with bipolar disorder tended to have greater adiposity. Age-adjusted mean (95% CI) values for bipolar versus controls according to adiposity indices were weight 75.6 (68.9–82.3) versus 72.6 (71.3–74.0) kg, waist circumference 89.8 (84.1–95.6) versus 87.3 (86.1–88.5) cm, waist:hip ratio 0.85 (0.82–0.87) versus 0.84 (0.83–0.84), body mass index 27.6 (25.1–30.1) versus 27.5 (27.0–28.0) kg/m2, fat mass 31.4 (26.5–36.3) versus 28.6 (27.5–29.5) kg and %body fat 40.4 (36.9–43.9) versus 38.0 (37.3–38.7)%; all p > 0.05. Further adjustment for height, smoking, alcohol, psychotropic medication, energy intake or physical activity did not influence these patterns.

Conclusion Although a pattern suggestive of greater adiposity among those with bipolar disorder was observed, no significant differences were detected. We cannot exclude the possibility of a type II error. Further research with a larger sample may produce more conclusive results.


Corresponding author

Dr Lana Williams, School of Medicine, Psychiatric Research Unit: Barwon Health, Deakin University, PO Box 281, Geelong 3220, Australia. Tel: +61 3 5260 3085; Fax: +61 3 5246 5165; E-mail:


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Acta Neuropsychiatrica
  • ISSN: 0924-2708
  • EISSN: 1601-5215
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