Obesity Linked with Mood and Anxiety Disorders

July 3, 2006 - Results of an NIMH-funded study show that nearly one out of four cases of obesity is associated with a mood or anxiety disorder , but the causal relationship and complex interplay between the two is still unclear. The study is based on data compiled from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication, a nationally representative, face-to-face household survey of 9,282 U.S. adults, conducted in 2001-2003. It was published in the July 3, 2006, issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

The results appear to support what other studies have found-that obesity, which is on the rise in the United States, is associated with increasing rates of major depression, bipolar disorder, panic disorder and other disorders. However, in contrast to other studies, this study found no significant differences in the rates between men and women. In addition, it found that obesity was associated with a 25 percent lower lifetime risk of having a substance abuse disorder. Obesity is defined as having a body mass index of 30 or more.

Social and cultural factors appear to influence the obesity connection with mood and anxiety disorders, according to the study. The association appeared to be strongest among non-Hispanic whites who are age 29 and younger, and college educated.

The causal relationship between obesity and mood and anxiety disorders continues to be debated and studied. Both likely contribute to the other, but they may be linked through a common environmental or biological factor as well. Lead author Gregory Simon, MD of the Center for Health Studies, Group Health Cooperative in Seattle, Wash., suggests further study into how the two conditions intersect.

For more, please visit the Depression and Obesity Centers.

SOURCE: National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health

Other study authors are Michael Von Korff ScD, of the Center for Health Studies, Group Health Cooperative; Kathleen Saunders JD, of the Center for Health Studies, Group Health Cooperative; Diana L. Miglioretti PhD, of the Center for Health Studies, Group Health Cooperative and the University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine; Paul K. Crane MD, MPH, of the University of Washington School of Medicine; Gerald van Belle PhD, of the University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine; and Ronald C. Kessler PhD, of Harvard Medical School.

Simon GE, von Korff M, Saunders K, Miglioretti DL, Crane PK, van Belle G, Kessler R. Association Between Obesity and Psychiatric Disorders in the U.S. Adult Population. Archives of General Psychiatry. 2006. 63: 824-830.


Last Editorial Review: 8/18/2006