Approximately half of those who participate in InSHAPE
experience a clinically significant reduction in cardiovascular risk consisting of weight loss and improved fitness.
People who have been diagnosed with serious mental illness experience one of the nation’s greatest health disparities: a reduced life expectancy of up to 30 years compared to the general population. Cardiovascular disease is the primary cause of early mortality, and about 80% of people with serious mental illnesses are overweight or have obesity.
A research team at The Dartmouth Institute led by Professor Stephen Bartels has conducted two randomized trials showing that approximately half of overweight or obese people with serious mental illness who participate in the InSHAPE program experience a clinically significant reduction in cardiovascular risk consisting of weight loss and improved fitness.
InSHAPE includes a weekly session with a health mentor who is a certified fitness trainer with knowledge in the special challenges experienced by overweight people with mental illness. In addition, InSHAPE participants have access to a free or low-cost gym memberships at a community fitness facility such as a YMCA, and also receive nutrition information. InSHAPE was developed in 2003 by Ken Jue, the former CEO of Monadnock Family Services of Keene, NH. Since that time, the program has been scaled-up and is now being offered in 76 mental health agencies in 23 states in the United States.
MENTAL HEALTH AGENCIES IN 23 STATES ACROSS THE U.S. NOW OFFER THE INSHAPE PROGRAM.
Researchers at The Dartmouth Institute have evaluated the effectiveness of InSHAPE in three studies, including two randomized trials conducted from 2006 to 2013 in community mental health centers in rural and urban settings. Through secondary analysis, we found that InSHAPE is effective among people with severe obesity (BMI ≥40 kg/m2) with over one-quarter of participants with severe obesity achieving 5% or greater weight loss and improved fitness.
Additional study of the InSHAPE program is ongoing, including evaluation of the long-term impact of the intervention and assessing the impact of financial incentives for participation in weight loss programs.
Cynthia Bianco, Emily Scherer, Gail Williams, Rosemarie Wolfe
Ken Jue, Stacey Zawacki