Excess Fat = Depression, Says Study
Carrying as little as ten kilograms of excess body fat increases the risk of depression by a whopping 17%, according to a new study.
Lead author of the study Dr. Søren Dinesen Østergaard said: “Our study also indicated that the location of the fat on the body makes no difference to the risk of depression.
“This suggests that it is the psychological consequences of being overweight or obese which lead to the increased risk of depression, and not the direct biological effect of the fat.
“If the opposite was true we would have seen that fat located centrally on the body increased the risk the most, as it has the most damaging effect in biological terms.”
In the study, the researchers analysed data from two large genetic data sets: the UK Biobank, which contains data on the correlation between genetic variants and physical measurements (including body fat mass distributed around parts of the body); and the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium, which contains information on the correlation between genetic variants and depression.
Dr. Østergaard also highlights his research group’s choice of the ‘Mendelian randomization’ method as the main reason why the study was successful. He also emphasizes that the findings are particularly significant in light of the fact that almost 40% of the world’s adult population is overweight.
Dr. Østergaard added: “As it appears to be the psychological consequences of obesity, such as a negative body image and low self-esteem that is the main driving force behind the increased risk of depression, society’s efforts to combat obesity must not stigmatise, as this will probably increase the risk of depression even further.
“It is important to bear this in mind so we can avoid doing more harm than good in the effort to curb the obesity epidemic,” he concluded.