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Depression & Obesity

Obesity & Depression in Adolescents

Adolescents who suffer from depression are at a greater risk of becoming obese and staying obese, according to a new study.

Adult obesity has been associated with depression, especially in women. Previous research has also suggested a link between depression in young people and higher body mass index. Until now researchers had not been able to answer the question of whether depression leads to obesity or obesity causes depression. Researchers from Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati looked at whether depression predicts the development and persistence of obesity.

The study used information collected from more than 9,300 adolescents in grades 7 through 12. The students answered questions about their health and were re-interviewed one year later. Researchers calculated each participant’s body mass index from the students’ self-reported height and weight. Parents also answered questions about household income, parental education and parental obesity.

Researchers report at the beginning of the study about 13 percent of the adolescents were considered overweight, almost 10 percent were obese, and 8.5 percent suffered from depression. After one year, close to 80 percent of the obese adolescents remained obese. Researchers report the participants who suffered from depression were more likely to be obese at the follow-up time.

This was true even when investigators took into account age, race, gender, parental obesity, number of parents in the home, and family socioeconomic status. However, participants who were obese at the beginning of the study were not more likely to be depressed after one year.

The study finds depressed adolescents are at an increased risk for developing and staying obese during the adolescent years. Researchers say it is important to understand the connection between obesity and depression in order to help prevent and treat both of these problems.

SOURCE: Pediatrics.

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