Obese people at increased risk of depression, research finds
Monday, 01, Mar 2010 09:05
A new connection between obesity and depression, and vice versa, has been uncovered by scientists, new research out today claims.
Researchers said in the March issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry that it was essential to learn more about the relationship between the two conditions as both had "major public health implications".
The scientists behind the research analysed the results of 15 previously published studies involving 58,745 participants that examined the relationship between depression and being overweight or obese over time. They found obese people had a 55 per cent increased risk of developing depression over time, whereas depressed people had a 58 per cent increased risk of becoming obese.
"Both depression and obesity are widely spread problems with major public health implications," the authors said.
They added that understanding the relationship between the two conditions over time could help improve prevention and intervention strategies. In the analysis, it was also found that the association between obesity and later depression was more pronounced among Americans than among Europeans, and stronger for diagnosed depressive disorder compared with depressive symptoms.
While the authors admit there is no biological link between being obese and suffering from depression, they said that because thinness is considered a beauty ideal in both the US and Europe, being overweight or obese may contribute to body dissatisfaction and low self-esteem that places individuals at risk for depression. They also said that those who are on antidepressant medication often suffer problems with their weight as a side effect.
The authors concluded: "Because weight gain appears to be a late consequence of depression, care providers should be aware that within depressive patients weight should be monitored.
"In overweight or obese patients, mood should be monitored. This awareness could lead to prevention, early detection and co-treatment for the ones at risk, which could ultimately reduce the burden of both conditions."