A SOUTHAMPTON professor will lead a new study exploring how to prevent premature death in schizophrenia patients.

A group of researchers, led by Professor Richard Holt from the University of Southampton, will investigate whether people with the mental illness can lose weight through a structured education plan.

Professor Holt said: “We know people with severe mental illness die ten to 20 years earlier than the general population. The commonest cause is from heart disease and being overweight or obese increases this risk. We want to develop a programme for use in the NHS that will help people with schizophrenia address the problem of obesity.”