Skip to main content

Transforming the understanding
and treatment of mental illnesses.

Celebrating 75 Years! Learn More >>

 Archived Content

The National Institute of Mental Health archives materials that are over 4 years old and no longer being updated. The content on this page is provided for historical reference purposes only and may not reflect current knowledge or information.

Project Achieve Weight Loss Trial for People with Serious Mental Illness

NIMH grantee Dr. Gail Daumit talks about the Project Achieve weight loss trial.


Dr. Gail Daumit: This is the longest and largest randomized behavioral weight loss trial with participants of serious mental illness that’s ever been done.

We know this population has an extremely high risk of premature mortality- three times higher than the overall population. And about eighty percent are overweight or obese. They really need weight loss programs.

One issue has to do with the psychotropic medications that they take- that they need to take for their overall health. But many of these agents cause weight gain through increased appetite and other mechanisms.

Betty Laney: I cook the food. I order the food. I definitely use strict portion controls. We use less fat foods I try to introduce the clients on a regular daily basis to low fat foods, low calorie foods, how to prepare foods, what’s better for you. I introduce them to things, they may have wouldn’t or may have never tried before.

Dr. Gail Daumit: We found that we had significant weight loss in the intervention groups compared to the control groups- seven pounds- which is really consistent with mny of the other weight loss trials in the general population.

Jeff Richardson: Frankly, people do not think that people who have mental illness can be successful. And I think this study really supported how successful people are and how individualized peoples recoveries are. And the results were staggering and empowering to so many people here at Mosiac.

Dr. Gail Daumit: The change that we measured was weight and so we saw that physical health change but we also saw participants that felt better about themselves overall. We had a couple that went off and got exercise trainer certification and are now exercise leaders in their own psychiatric day programs after the studies ended.

Before now we weren’t really sure that this could be done and now that it can be done we need to figure out how to spread it.