Graduation Date

Summer 8-14-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Mary Cramer

Second Advisor

Julia Houfek

Third Advisor

Shinobu Watanabe-Galloway


Background: Many health disparities among individuals with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are due to obesity-associated diseases. Several causes of obesity have been discovered, but few risk factors are known. In the general public, low socioeconomic status (SES) is associated with obesity.

Objective: Examine the relationship between SES and body mass index (BMI) among people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Design: A secondary analysis of the Collaborative Psychiatric Epidemiology Surveys dataset. The psychiatric group (N=480) included individuals with symptoms of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Those reporting no symptoms were controls (N=5,161). Childhood SES variables included mother and father education and profession, government assistance, having gone hungry, and not having received needed medical care. Adult SES variables included food security, financial security, and government assistance. SES and BMI were examined using descriptive statistics and t-tests.

Results: BMI was higher in the psychiatric group than controls (28.3 v. 27). Age, sex, occupation, and education were associated with BMI for controls. Age, sex, financial insecurity, and receiving government assistance elevated BMI in the psychiatric group.

Conclusion: Findings suggest monitoring patients with low SES most closely.