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High risk of metabolic syndrome among black South African women with severe mental illness

Shamima Saloojee
Jonathan K. Burns
Ayesha A. Motala


Background: There is an increased prevalence of metabolic syndrome (MetS) in individuals with severe mental illness (SMI) globally. The prevalence of MetS is higher in black women compared to black men from South Africa.

Aim: To compare the prevalence of MetS between black South African men and women with SMI taking antipsychotic medication. Further, this prevalence was compared to the prevalence in a matched control group of black South African men and women without SMI.

Setting: A general hospital psychiatric unit.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was undertaken to compare the prevalence of MetS in a group of multi-ethnic participants with SMI treated with antipsychotic medication and a matched control group without SMI, applying the 2009 Joint Interim Statement (JIS) criteria. Here, we included only the black African participants to compare MetS prevalence between men and women.

Results: There were 232 participants in the group with SMI (male 155 and female 77) and without SMI (male 156 and female 76). The prevalence of MetS was more than three times higher in women with SMI compared to men with SMI (37.7% vs. 10.3%, p < 0.001). There was no significant difference in the prevalence of MetS in men or women between the groups with and without SMI. In multivariate logistic regression analysis, female gender (odds ratio [OR] 7.66), advancing age (OR 1.08) and longer duration of illness (OR = 1.15) were significant risk factors for MetS in SMI.

Conclusion: In black South Africans with SMI on antipsychotic medication, there is a higher prevalence and risk for MetS in women compared to men.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2078-6786
print ISSN: 1608-9685