Study Explores Links Between Obesity and Depression

Meta-analysis confirms that obesity increases risk of depression and vice versa
By Jeff Muise
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, March 5 (HealthDay News) -- People who are obese are at increased risk of developing depression and, conversely, depressed people are at increased risk of developing obesity, according to a meta-analysis published in the March issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Floriana S. Luppino, M.D., of the Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands, and colleagues reviewed the medical literature up to March 2008 on overweight (body mass index 25 to 29.99) and obesity (body mass index ≥30) and their links to depression. The reviewers screened 2,937 articles, reviewed 80, and performed meta-analyses on 15 studies covering 58,745 subjects.

The reviewers found that baseline overweight and obesity both increased the risk of onset of depression at follow-up (odds ratios, 1.27 and 1.55, respectively). This association between obesity and depression was stronger among American than European subjects and for depressive disorder as opposed to depressive symptoms. The association between overweight and depression was significant for adults (20 to 59 and ≥60 years of age) but not for subjects under 20 years of age. Conversely, depression increased the risk for developing obesity (odds ratio, 1.58) but was not predictive of overweight.

"This meta-analysis confirms a reciprocal link between depression and obesity. Obesity was found to increase the risk of depression, most pronounced among Americans and for clinically diagnosed depression. In addition, depression was found to be predictive of developing obesity," the authors write.

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