While previous studies have already established a link between obesity and depression, in a study that claims to have found the strongest evidence regarding the link between the two, researchers have found that obesity causes depression, even in the absence of other health problems.
The research was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.
“The team looked at UK Biobank data from more than 48,000 people with depression and compared them to more than 290,000 controls in the UK Biobank cohort of people born between 1938 and 1971, who have provided medical and genetic information. They used hospital admission data and self-reporting to determine whether people had depression”, University of Exeter’s website mentions.
The team separated the psychological component of obesity from the impact of obesity-related health problems using genes associated with higher BMI but lower risk of diseases like diabetes. In an interesting turn of events, it was found that these genes were just as strongly associated with depression as those genes associated with higher BMI and diabetes, which suggests that a higher BMI causes depression both with and without related health issues.
It was found that this effect was stronger in women than in men. “At the other ends of the BMI spectrum, very thin men are more prone to depression than men of normal weight and very thin women”, the study mentioned.
According to Professor Hypponen, Director of the Australian Centre for Precision Health, who co-led the study, “Our research shows that being overweight doesn’t just increase the risks of chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease; it can also lead to depression”.