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Childhood depression increases women obesity risk

A study says that depression and anxiety disorders during childhood increase the risk of obesity during adulthood for women.

india Updated: Mar 08, 2006 11:58 IST

A new study has found that depression and anxiety disorders during childhood may increase the risk of obesity during adulthood for women but not men.

The study, by a team of researchers led by Sarah E. Anderson, M.S., from Tufts University, was carried out on a group of 820 people - 403 women and 417 men - who were assessed four times between 1983 and 2003. The participants ranged in age from 9 to 18 years at the beginning of the study, and were 28 to 40 years old at the most recent assessment.

The researchers evaluated the association between anxiety disorders and depression and weight gain from childhood into adulthood.

As a part of the study, they interviewed the individuals to determine whether they met clinical criteria for anxiety disorders or depression, and calculated BMI-for-age (BMI z scores), that correspond to growth chart percentiles and allow for tracking a child's relative weight through adolescence, by dividing weight in kilograms by the square of height in meters and adjusting it for age and gender based on national reference data.

The team found that 310 participants - 119 men and 191 women -had anxiety disorders and 148 - 50 men and 98 women - were depressed, and that women with anxiety disorders had significantly higher BMI z scores than women of the same age and socioeconomic status without the condition.

They also found that women with a history of depression, and those who had developed depression at a younger age, were heavier than women without depression, and also those who had developed depression later.

The researchers now suggest that treating anxiety and depression in girls and women may be one strategy in the battle against obesity.

"Our results suggest that efforts to improve mental health in populations may also help prevent female obesity," they said.

The study is published in the March issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

First Published: Mar 08, 2006 11:58 IST