If You Think You’re Too Big – You May Get DepressedTuesday, May 13, 2008
There is a widespread notion that obesity and depression go hand in hand.
This is not true. In fact, thin people are as likely to get depressed as people with overweight or obesity.
However, depression rates are higher in people who are trying to lose weight, particularly in those seeking help to do so.
So why is there more depression in the latter group?
One explanation, according to Evan Atlantis and Kylie Ball from the University of Sydney, published in the International Journal of Obesity, may be that dissatisfaction with your weight may increase your risk for psychological distress and thus depression.
Atlantis and Ball conducted a cross-sectional study on data from 17,253 individuals participating in the Australian National Health Survey 2004-2005. All variables, including weight status, weight perception and scores for psychological distress were collected by self-report.
Overweight and underweight perception increased the odds of psychological distress, whereas the actual weight status did not. This finding applied to both genders.
The authors conclude that people who perceive themselves as over- (or under-) weight are more likely to have psychological distress that may promote depression than people who do not fuss about their weight.
Whether or not this perception is actually changed by weight loss (or weight gain) remains to be seen.