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Depression, Anxiety May Raise Odds of Obesity

Study finds those with chronic mental health problems to be at greater risk

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 7 (HealthDay News) -- There is an association between common mental disorders such as depression and anxiety and the risk of future obesity, according to a study published Oct. 6 in BMJ.

Mika Kivimäki, Ph.D., of University College London, and colleagues conducted a study of 4,363 adults with a mean age of 44 years at baseline, of whom 28 percent were female, and screened them four times for mental disorders and obesity over a 19-year period.

Subjects who had a common mental disorder at one previous screening were 33 percent more likely than those with no mental disorder to be obese by the fourth screening, the researchers found; while the odds of obesity among those who had common mental disorders at two or three screenings were 64 and 101 percent higher, respectively. The authors further note that, when baseline mental health characteristics were taken into account and subjects who were obese at baseline were excluded from the analysis, the association held.

"If the observed associations are causal, our findings have important implications for prevention and treatment," the authors write. "As obesity is a major risk factor for various chronic conditions and premature death, an increased risk of obesity induced by mental health problems should be taken into account in the treatment of persistent common mental disorders."

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