Home Medizin Fettleibigkeit im Zusammenhang mit Depressionsrisiko bei älteren Erwachsenen

Fettleibigkeit im Zusammenhang mit Depressionsrisiko bei älteren Erwachsenen

von NFI Redaktion

A recent study in PLUS ONE explores the relationship between depression and obesity.

Study: Relationships between adiposity measurements and depression and well-being scores: A cross-sectional analysis of middle to older-aged adults. Image source: Creative Images / Shutterstock.com

Obesity and Depression

Prior research suggests a strong association between obesity and depression, with nearly 60% of people with severe depression reporting obesity. This study also found that obesity was 1.2 to 1.5 times more likely in people with severe depression; however, conflicting results on this relationship have been reported in other studies.

A healthy lifestyle is linked to mental health benefits, while an unhealthy lifestyle has been shown to increase the risk of depression. This is significant as lifestyle factors can be modified to reduce the risk of poor mental health.

The aim of the current study was to create consistent and reproducible data using two different measures of fat mass or obesity to assess the relationship with mental health. Specifically, both Body Mass Index (BMI) and Waist-to-Height Ratio (WHR) were examined for their potential connection to depression and mental health after accounting for potential confounders.

About the Study

The current study obtained data from the clinical phase II study on diabetes and cardiovascular disease in Cork and Kerry conducted between May 1, 2010, and April 30, 2011. A random sample was drawn from a primary care center, with the final cohort comprising 1,800 participants.

BMI and WHR measurements were taken after study participants were tested for diabetes while fasting. Health and lifestyle characteristics were also assessed via a questionnaire, as well as a food frequency questionnaire to evaluate dietary factors represented as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet score.

Study Findings

Severe depression and lower mental well-being were associated with being female, younger, and diabetic, but had a negative relationship with physical activity. Study participants with lower levels of education and those who drank less had higher well-being scores.

BMI reflects overall body fat, while WHR reflects central fat deposition or visceral fat. In the current study, both measures of body fat were significantly associated with depression.

Individuals with higher body fat percentage were more likely to be depressed in both genders, even after accounting for lifestyle and certain obesity-related diseases. This association was stronger in women than in men, but both were significant.

Increased obesity is linked to mental health.

How Does Obesity Impact Mental Health?

The study results confirm previous findings indicating an increased risk of developing depression in obese individuals. This association could stem from reduced self-esteem, a diminished self-image, and lower self-satisfaction due to obesity, all of which can increase the risk of depression.

Social factors can also influence this connection as overweight individuals are often ridiculed or discriminated against in social situations. Obesity can also lead to chronic joint pain or trigger fibromyalgia, which can worsen depression symptoms.

Both obesity and depression disrupt the chemical balance of neural transmission circuits, disrupting the endocrine axis, leading to inflammation, increased oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction affecting the body’s energy metabolism, and ultimately neurodegeneration.

A disturbance in the neural and endocrine signaling systems regulating the body’s energy production and expenditure can also contribute to the link between obesity and depression, as hormones like insulin and leptin are involved in food intake. Furthermore, obesity and depression may be related to neural pathways connecting these homeostatic responses with circuits that aid in mood regulation.

Childhood poverty and other indicators of disadvantaged status point to depression in adulthood. This could be caused by unfavorable environmental and lifestyle factors, family instability, and increased life stress.

What Are the Implications?

Due to the results of this cross-sectional study, it remains unclear whether obesity causes depression or vice versa. Further research is needed to elucidate the mechanisms responsible for this association.

Targeted interventions to reduce depression should include better weight control on a population level, especially among middle to older-aged populations.

Journal Reference:

  • Lonergan, C., Millar, SR, & Kabir, Z. (2024). Relationships between adiposity measurements and depression and well-being scores: A cross-sectional analysis of middle to older-aged adults. PLUS ONE. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0299029.

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