Nav: Home

Being overweight likely to cause depression, even without health complications

November 13, 2018

A largescale genomic analysis has found the strongest evidence yet that being overweight causes depression, even in the absence of other health problems.

The research, jointly led by the University of Exeter and the University of South Australia, suggests that it is the psychological impact of being overweight that causes depression, rather than associated illnesses. This furthers understanding of the complex relationship between obesity and depression. While it has long been known that depression is more common in obesity, the research, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, is the first to conclude that higher body mass index (BMI) can cause depression in itself, even where no other health problems exist.

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.

The team used a genetic research approach to explore the causal link between the two conditions. The team separated out 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. These genes were just as strongly associated with depression as those genes associated with higher BMI and diabetes. This suggests that higher BMI causes depression both with and without related health issues. This effect was stronger in women than in men.

Dr Jess Tyrrell, of the University of Exeter Medical School, said: "Obesity and depression are both global health problems that have a major impact on lives and are costly to health services. 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. Our robust genetic analysis concludes that the psychological impact of being obese is likely to cause depression. This is important to help target efforts to reduce depression, which makes it much harder for people to adopt healthy lifestyle habits."

The team tested their results in a second large-scale cohort, using data from the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium. They reached the same conclusion, verifying their results.
-end-
The full paper, entitled Using genetics to understand the causal influence of higher BMI on depression, is published in International Journal of Epidemiology. Authors are Jessica Tyrrell, Anwar Mulugeta, Andrew R. Wood, Ang Zhou, Robin N. Beaumont, Marcus A. Tuke, Samuel E. Jones, Katherine S. Ruth, Hanieh Yaghootkar, Seth Sharp, William D. Thompson, Yingjie Ji, Jamie Harrison, Rachel M. Freathy, Anna Murray, Michael N. Weedon, Major Depressive Disorder Working Group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium, Cathryn Lewis, Timothy M. Frayling, Elina Hyppönen.

University of Exeter

Related Depression Articles:

Which comes first: Smartphone dependency or depression?
New research suggests a person's reliance on his or her smartphone predicts greater loneliness and depressive symptoms, as opposed to the other way around.
Depression breakthrough
Major depressive disorder -- referred to colloquially as the 'black dog' -- has been identified as a genetic cause for 20 distinct diseases, providing vital information to help detect and manage high rates of physical illnesses in people diagnosed with depression.
CPAP provides relief from depression
Researchers have found that continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can improve depression symptoms in patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases.
Post-natal depression in dads linked to depression in their teenage daughters
Fathers as well as mothers can experience post-natal depression -- and it is linked to emotional problems for their teenage daughters, new research has found.
Being overweight likely to cause depression, even without health complications
A largescale genomic analysis has found the strongest evidence yet that being overweight causes depression, even in the absence of other health problems.
More Depression News and Depression Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#537 Science Journalism, Hold the Hype
Everyone's seen a piece of science getting over-exaggerated in the media. Most people would be quick to blame journalists and big media for getting in wrong. In many cases, you'd be right. But there's other sources of hype in science journalism. and one of them can be found in the humble, and little-known press release. We're talking with Chris Chambers about doing science about science journalism, and where the hype creeps in. Related links: The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial This...