Is your kid overweight? Beware, being obese, especially from a young age may substantially increase a lifetime risk of major depression, researchers have found.
The study showed that being overweight at age eight or 13 was associated with more than triple the risk of developing major depression at some point in their lives.
Carrying excess weight over a lifetime (both as a child and as an adult) quadrupled the chance of developing depression compared to only being overweight as an adult.
“Our findings suggest that some of the underlying mechanisms linking overweight or obesity to depression stem from childhood. A shared genetic risk or low self-esteem, which is frequently associated with those who do not conform to the ideal body type, could be responsible,” said Deborah Gibson-Smith from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
“Given the rise in adolescents’ obesity and greater influence of social media on body image, understanding the associations between childhood obesity and depression is critical,” Gibson-Smith added.
For the study, presented at the European Congress on Obesity being held in Portugal, the team examined 889 participants, on whether the detrimental effect of obesity on mental health is due to life-long obesity or the result of being overweight in adulthood.
Carrying excess weight in childhood was found as a stronger predictor of subsequent depression than being overweight in mid-life.
Children who were overweight or obese at age eight or 13 years had more than four-times increased risk of lifetime major depressive disorder compared with children who were normal weight as a child but went on to become overweight as adults.