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Obesity linked to increased risk of depression among girls

29 Jul 2018

Girls with obesity are at higher risk of developing depression compared with their normal-weight peers, with the risk persisting into adulthood, according to a study.

Researchers conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of cross-sectional and longitudinal observational studies that evaluated concurrent or prospective odds of depression in children (aged <18 years) who had their weight status classified by body mass index (BMI) using age- and sex-adjusted reference charts or the International Obesity Task Force age- and sex-specific cutoffs.

Pooled data from 22 studies involving 143,603 children showed that the prevalence of depression among obese children was 10.4 percent. Those with obesity were 1.32 (95 percent CI, 1.17–1.50) times as likely as normal-weight children to have depression.

Among female children, obesity increased the likelihood of depression by 44 percent compared with normal weight status (odds ratio [OR], 1.44; 1.20–1.72).

There were no associations observed between overweight status and depression (OR, 1.04; 0.95–1.14) and between obese or overweight male subgroups and depression (OR, 1.14; 0.93–1.41 and OR, 1.08; 0.85–1.37, respectively).

Separate subgroup analysis of cross-sectional and longitudinal studies revealed childhood obesity to be associated with greater odds of both concurrent and prospective odds of depression (OR, 1.26; 1.09–1.45 and OR, 1.51; 1.21–1.88).

The results highlight the value of screening female children with obesity for signs and symptoms of depression, researchers said. Additional work is warranted to further examine why this population is vulnerable to the negative mental health effects of obesity.

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