April 20, 2017
1 min read

Childhood, adolescent obesity tied to depression, depressive symptoms

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The risk for depression and depressive symptoms is greater among children and adolescents with obesity compared with those with normal weight or overweight, and the risk is higher among girls compared with boys, according to findings published in Obesity Reviews.

Melvyn W.B. Zhang, MBBS, DCP, MRCPsych, of the Biomedical Institute for Global Health Research and Technology (BIGHEART), National University of Singapore, and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis on 18 studies that included 51,272 children and adolescents to determine the association between childhood and adolescent obesity and depression.

Included studies were conducted between 2000 and 2014 in five countries in Europe and in Australia, China, India, Iran, South Korea and the United States. The outcome was depression in eight of the studies and depressive symptoms in the remaining 11 studies.

Compared with normal-weight participants, participants with obesity were 1.34 times more likely to have depression (P = .005). Non-Western populations demonstrated a strong association between obesity and depression compared with Western populations (P = .008).

Participants with obesity were also more likely to have depressive symptoms compared with normal weight participants (P = .028). Between participants with normal weight and those with obesity, the standard mean difference of depressive symptoms was greater in girls compared with boys (P = .048).

No difference was found for depression or depressive symptoms between normal-weight participants and participants with overweight.

“This meta-analysis supplemented previous systematic reviews and provided aggregate data from observational studies conducted in different countries,” the researchers wrote. “We found that obese children and adolescents are more likely to suffer from depression and depressive symptoms, with women and non-Western people at higher risk. Greater focus on screening and detection of depression in children and adolescents, especially among higher-risk groups, is required. Clinicians should consider employing caution when prescribing antidepressants to this age group, avoiding those that may cause weight gain.” – by Amber Cox

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.