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Study Reports Obesity and Depression Often Occur Together

Update Date: Oct 16, 2014 11:15 AM EDT

Several studies have linked physical activity levels to risk of depression. In a new study, researchers examined the relationship between depression and weight. They concluded that the mental illness and obesity often go hand in hand.

"We are just describing the relationship, but we don't have anything in our data that would help us answer the why question," author of the report, Laura Pratt, an epidemiologist with the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, said according to Medical Xpress.

Overall, the report found that 43 percent of adults suffering from depression were also obese. When the team factored in use of antidepressants, they found that 55 percent of depressed patients on medication were obese. The researchers added that as depression severity increased, so did the patients' risk of obesity.

Gender and race also played a factor into the relationship between depression and obesity. Female patients with depression were more likely than women without the mental illness to be obese regardless of age. The team added that there were more white women with depression who were obese than there were white women with depression who had normal weights.

"Both depression and obesity impact many aspects of life, and their relationship is naturally complex. Some of the connections are obvious: Obesity can cause low self-esteem, social isolation and stressful health problems. All of them can cause depression. Depression can lead some patients to binge eat and get obese," Tony Tang, an adjunct professor in the department of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, reasoned. "Many aspects of a modern lifestyle can cause both depression and obesity."

Some of these aspects include watching TV alone, playing video games and spending hours on the computer. These activities can lead to social isolation as well as weight gain. Aside from these factors, Tang added that some antidepressants, such as Paxil, could cause weight gain. However, the researchers noted that they found a correlation and not a cause-and-effect relationship.

Tang stressed, "Living a healthier lifestyle, eating healthy food, drinking only moderately, spending less time on TV and on the Internet, and spending more time exercising can help prevent both depression and obesity."

The report, "Depression and Obesity in the U.S. Adult Household Population, 2005-2010," can be accessed here.

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