Obesity can cause depression, particularly in women: Aussie study

Henrietta Strickland
November 15, 2018

A person is considered obese if they are more than 20 percent over their ideal weight.

Researchers from the University of South Australia and Exeter University (UK) used genetic analysis and showed that excess weight affects the psychological state and causes depression.

The authors reviewed clinical data of 48 791 a patient suffering from depression, and 291 995 people, who formed the control group.

Now, in the largest study of its kind, experts say having genetic variants linked to a high body mass index (BMI) can lead to depression, with a stronger effect in women than men.

There were 73 genetic variants studied over this period and it showed 49,000 participants suffered from depression.

Hospital data and self-reporting were used to determine whether people had depression. The team identified about 49,000 participants whom they were confident had depression.

Obese women were more likely to report depression than obese men, a result in line with research the team had done on older obese people, published earlier this year. The results held even when they carried out additional tests, such as excluding individuals with a family history of depression, and when the analysis was repeated on data from a large global project called the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium. Genetics are available for all individuals. Both of them contribute to immune system health.

Naveed Sattar, a professor of metabolic medicine at the University of Glasgow, welcomed the research.

Greg Pavela, Ph.D.Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, in collaboration with researchers at Indiana University-Bloomington, have received an R01 grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the association between obesity and longevity and why some people are more susceptible to the health consequences of obesity compared to others. We've long known there's a link between the two, yet it's unclear whether obesity causes depression or vice-versa, and also whether it's being overweight in itself or the associated health problems that can cause depression.

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