Obesity Linked To Depression In Older Adults

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Xiaoling Xiang

School of Social Work, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Urbana, IL 61801

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The adverse health consequences of obesity have been well documented, but the psychological risks of obesity are less clear. The study examined the long-term impact of obesity on the onset of depression in a sample of middle-aged and older adults who were initially free of clinically relevant depressive symptoms. We found that being overweight or obese significantly predicted onset of clinically relevant depressive symptoms during the 16 years of follow-up. Unhealthy weight appeared to have a stronger, adverse impact on depressive symptoms among females and non-Hispanic whites compared with their male and ethnic minority counterparts.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: Clinicians should be aware of the increased risk for depression among overweight and obese older adults. Depression is a serious mental condition and may increase the risk for disability and premature morality among older adults. However, geriatric depression is frequently missed and inadequately treated. Obesity may make it more difficult to properly diagnose depression in older age due to its association with cognitive decline and functional limitations. It is therefore important for clinicians and patients to recognize the potential risks for depression among overweight and obese older adults and monitor their mood status.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Future studies should confirm the link between obesity and depression using different measures of adiposity (e.g., waist circumference, percentage body fat or fat mass) and clinical diagnosis of depression. More research is needed to explain the gender and racial/ethnic differences in the relationship between obesity and depression found in the present study.


Obesity and Onset of Depression among U.S. Middle-aged and Older Adults

Xiang, Xiaoling et al.
Journal of Psychosomatic Research
Published Online: December 20, 2014



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