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New links among alcohol abuse, depression, obesity in young women found
Date:9/22/2009

There is new evidence that depression, obesity and alcohol abuse or dependency are interrelated conditions among young adult women but not men.

Using data collected when young adults were 24, 27 and 30 years of age, a team of University of Washington researchers found that nearly half the sample of 776 young adults tracked during the study met the criteria for one of these conditions at each of these time points.

"The proportion of people with all three of these conditions at any one point is small," said Carolyn McCarty, the lead author of a new study and a UW research associate professor of pediatrics and psychology. "For women there is a great deal of overlap between these common emotional and health problems that span early adulthood. Men may develop one of these conditions but they don't tend to lead another one later on."

"These conditions are major public health problems. They take a toll on families and community and are not subject to quick fixes. It requires a lot of time, money and energy to treat them."

The study found that:

  • Women with an alcohol disorder at age 24 were more than three times as likely to be obese when they were 27.
  • Women who are obese at 27 were more than twice as likely to be depressed when they were 30.
  • Women who are depressed at 27 were at increased risk for alcohol disorders at 30.
  • Obesity offers men some protection against later developing depression.

McCarty said the research did not uncover any step-by-step progression from one these disorders to another. However, she said clinicians treating women with one of these conditions should be aware that patients might develop another disorder.

McCarty said there are two possibilities as to why women with alcohol disorder at 24 were more likely to be obese at 27.

"The caloric intake associated with drinking alcohol may increase metabolic processes leading to weight gain. Or there may be an unde
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Contact: Joel Schwarz
joels@u.washington.edu
206-543-2580
University of Washington
Source:Eurekalert

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