They Call It "Comfort Food"

Obesity related to increased risk of depression

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) "I eat because I'm unhappy, and I'm unhappy because I eat. It's a vicious cycle." Words from an obese character in the popular movie "Austin Powers" seem to hold weight as researchers contemplate its reality.  

A recent review released this month by the International Journal of Obesity highlights the correlation between obesity and depression. The review analyzed the changes in depressive symptoms during weight-loss interventions in order to determine an effective treatment.

"Talk to a therapist about helping with weight-loss treatments."

Sorting through articles from 1950 to 2009, Anthony Fabricatore, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and lead-author of the study, analyzed thirty-one studies in their review.

Classifying the weight-loss treatments into eight categories, researchers found the average weight-loss trial to significantly reduce symptoms of depression.  Furthermore, random effects models showed lifestyle modifications to influence the best results in reducing depressive symptoms, compared to marginal improvement with dietary counseling and exercise-alone programs.

The authors analyzed each study's treatment methodology and categorized the interventions as lifestyle modifications, non-dieting, dietary counseling, diet-alone, exercise-alone, pharmacotherapy, placebo, and control. All studies involved only human subjects reporting symptoms of depression.

The team of doctors and researchers working on the review hope future studies will examine weight-loss treatments on clinically diagnosed depressive patients in order to fully conceptualize its effects. In the meantime, weight-loss programs help.

Speak with a health professional to find the right program for you.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
November 28, 2011
Last Updated:
December 1, 2011