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Obesity, a Reflector of Mental Health – Study Find

An analysis of Caucasian Americans and people with more education and high income uncovered the strong bond that existed between obesity //and anxiety disorders.

Scientists from Group Health Center for Health Studies have found a 25 % increased risk of getting anxiety and mood disorders in obese than in non-obese persons.

The study, published in the July issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry, found that an obese person is about 25 percent more likely than a non-obese person to have a mood or anxiety disorder, such as depression. It also indicated that among Caucasian Americans and more educated people who are obese, that likelihood may be as high as 44 percent.

While the study did not show whether obesity leads to depression or vice versa, 'it's almost certain that the association works in both directions,' said Greg Simon, MD, MPH, a Group Health psychiatrist and the lead author of the study.

The researchers also found a negative association between obesity and substance abuse. That is, an obese person is 25 percent less likely than a non-obese person to have had a substance abuse disorder sometime in their lives.

‘Understanding the connection between obesity and depression is an important public health issue because both of these conditions are so common and have a significant impact on our health care systems,’ Dr. Simon explained.

He pointed to the evidence that an average American has a 30 percent chance of being obese. This study shows that when a person is depressed, the odds of also becoming obese are as high as 40 percent.

About 20 percent of Americans are diagnosed sometime in their lives with depression. ‘Among those who are obese, that likelihood of depression jumps to 28 percent,’ said Dr. Simon.

The study is based on an in-person survey that the researchers from Harvard Medical School conducted among a nationally representative sample of 9,125 adult men and women. Obe
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