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UAB study confirms link between depression, abdominal obesity
Date:6/9/2010

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. A new study at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) confirms the relationship between depression and abdominal obesity, which has been linked to an increased risk for cancer and cardiovascular disease.

"We found that in a sample of young adults during a 15-year period, those who started out reporting high levels of depression gained weight at a faster rate than others in the study, but starting out overweight did not lead to changes in depression," said UAB Assistant Professor of Sociology Belinda Needham, Ph.D.. The study appears in the June issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

"Our study is important because if you are interested in controlling obesity, and ultimately eliminating the risk of obesity-related diseases, then it makes sense to treat people's depression," said Needham, who teaches in the UAB Department of Sociology and Social Work. "It's another reason to take depression seriously and not to think about it just in terms of mental health, but to also think about the physical consequences of mental health problems."

Needham examined data from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study, a longitudinal study of 5,115 men and women ages 18-30 that aimed to identify the precursors of cardiovascular disease. Needham studied the data to test whether body mass index (BMI) weight divided by the square of one's height and waist circumference were associated with increases in depression or whether depression was associated with changes in BMI and waist circumference during a period of time.

CARDIA study scientists weighed and measured the waist circumference and BMI of study participants. The waist circumference was measured to the nearest half centimeter. CARDIA researchers also asked study participants in years five, 10, 15 and 20 to rank their own level of depression.

"Looking at the CARDIA sample data, we found that everyone, as a wh
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Contact: Gail Short
gshort@uab.edu
205-934-8931
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Source:Eurekalert

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