Anthropometric characteristics and the burden of altered nutritional status among neuropsychiatric patients at Zomba Mental Hospital in Zomba, Malawi|
Mhango, S. N.; Kalimbira, A. & Mwagomba, B.
To determine the prevalence of overnutrition and undernutrition among
neuropsychiatric inpatients and outpatients at Zomba Mental Hospital in
In this analytical cross-sectional study (n = 239), data were collected from
psychiatric patients who were either inpatients (n = 181) or outpatients
(n = 58) at Zomba Mental Hospital, which is the largest mental health
facility in Malawi. Information was collected about patient demographics,
anthropometric data, dietary information, and tobacco and alcohol use,
among other variables. Data were entered and analysed in SPSS 16.0 (SPSS
Inc., Chicago, IL, USA). Means were generated and compared between
male and female patients, and between inpatients and outpatients.
The study recruited 158 male and 81 female patients, with mean ages of
31.24 ± 11.85 years and 33.08 ± 15.18 years (p = 0.328), respectively.
Male patients were significantly taller (165.27 ± 7.25 cm) than female
patients (155.30 ± 6.56 cm) (p < 0.001); were significantly heavier than
females (60.02 ± 10.56 kg versus 55.64 ± 10.53 kg); and had a significantly
lower mean body mass index (BMI) than females (21.87 ± 3.21 vs. 23.01
± 3.78) (p = 0.016). Overweight and obese patients comprised 17.6% of
the participants, and 8.8% were underweight. There were no significant
differences in the prevalence of overweight, obesity, and underweight
between male and female participants, or between inpatients and
Our study—the first one of its kind in Malawi—characterised the
anthropometry of neuropsychiatric patients at a major metal health facility
in Malawi, and has shown a high proportion of overweight patients and a
notable presence of underweight patients among them. Being overweight
or obese is a risk factor for metabolic disorders. Being underweight
may aggravate mental illness or disturb the effect of medication. There
is need, therefore, to include nutrition screening and therapeutic or
supplementary feeding as part of a comprehensive care and treatment
plan for neuropsychiatric patients.