Obese White Teens May Have Increased Risk of Depression

Majority of severely obese youth do not have increased likelihood of high-depressive symptoms

FRIDAY, April 29 (HealthDay News) -- Non-Hispanic obese white adolescents may have an increased risk of high-depressive symptoms, according to a study published online March 14 in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Elizabeth Goodman, M.D., from Harvard Medical School in Boston, and Aviva Must, Ph.D., from the Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, investigated the relationship between severe obesity and depressive symptoms in a sample of non-Hispanic black and white adolescents. A total of 51 severely obese adolescents (body mass index-for-age ≥99 percent, and body mass index ≥40 kg/m²) in grades seven to 12 at baseline were matched with controls according to age, gender, and race. Pairs were 67 percent female and 73 percent non-Hispanic blacks. Depressive symptoms were measured using the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression (CES-D) scale at baseline, after two years, and after three years. High-depressive symptoms were defined by use of antidepressant medication or according to CES-D scores above specified cutoffs.

The investigators found that there was no association between weight status and symptoms of high depression at any assessment point. A positive correlation between weight status and CES-D scores emerged at three years in non-Hispanic whites. The correlation was independent of gender.

"Significantly increased depressive symptoms among non-Hispanic white youth at the end of the follow-up period suggests that this racial/ethnic group may be particularly vulnerable to the psychological effects of obesity in late adolescence and/or early adulthood," the authors write.

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