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Depressed Women More Likely to Gain Weight

Update Date: Dec 23, 2013 10:10 AM EST

It's no secret that weight gain can lead to depression in women. However, a new study reveals that depression can also pack on pounds Feeling depressed can increase women's' risk of obesity, a new study reveals.

After assessing a group of women living in Greater New Orleans area public schools, researchers at Tulane University found that those with depressive symptoms are more likely to be overweight or obese.

"This study adds to growing evidence of the link between depressive symptoms and weight in women," says Carolyn Johnson, director of the Tulane Prevention Research Center and an author of the study.

The study involved data from 743 women in 22 Jefferson Parish schools in fall 2006. The women were part of a wellness program called ACTION, which was designed to help improve diet a physical activity among school employees.

Participants filled out surveys about their exercise and eating behavior. After calculating the body mass index of participants, researchers found that those who reported greater symptoms of depression said they engaged in more emotional eating had higher BMIs. The findings also linked depressive symptoms to feeling less confident about exercise.

Because of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, women in the study had more depressive symptoms compared to those in other national studies, according to researchers.

"Given the high rates of both depression and obesity in women, there is an urgent need for new strategies to address these co-occuring health issues," lead researcher Gretchen Clum, associate professor of global community health and behavioral sciences, said in a news release.

The findings are published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine.

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