Childhood obesity increases risk of depression in adults, suggests study

Childhood obesity increases risk of depression in adults, suggests study

The society is increasingly becoming concerned not only with the way one looks but also with adopting healthy lifestyles and exercise. However, the U.S. still has a long way to cover before it can be considered a healthy nation. One surprising health condition, plaguing Americans is obesity. Obesity not only affects adults but children as well. It is a condition in which an individual has excessive body fat that may come from muscles, bones, fat and water in relation to his/her height. In fact, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of 2009-2010 found that at least one in three adults are considered to be obese.

Obesity in children is often triggered due to factors such as genetics, metabolism, eating behavior and physical activity, environment, attitudes and lifestyle and even income. This condition along with being overweight usually occurs due to energy imbalance. Therefore, when the body does not burn the calories it intakes it leads to imbalance. The condition is hard to live with and can also increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, and certain forms of cancer.

The causes remain unclear, though various studies point towards two factors, too much food and very little exercise. In fact, a World Health Organization research has found links between a rise in fast food sales and body mass index in wealthy countries.

Depression and Obesity: Is there a link?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately one in five children in the age group of 6 and 19 years has obesity. A recent research presented at the European Congress on Obesity 2017 suggests that an individual who has been overweight since a young age is at higher risk of developing major depression.

Although, the research does not substantiate that obesity is a cause of depression, it confirms earlier reports that youngsters who are obese are at a higher risk of developing depression.

Risk of depression in children with continued obesity

According to the study led by Deborah Gibson-Smith from the VU University Medical Center in the Netherlands, overweight children in the age group of 8 to 13 years have more than triple the risk of developing major depressive disorder (MDD) at some point in their lives. If a person is overweight both as a child and as an adult, the risk of developing depression quadruples as compared to children who are overweight only as adults.

The results were derived after studying 889 participants born between 1907 and 1935 in Reykjavik, Iceland. The data included information about the participants’ height and weight collected at various stages of their lives. Once the participants attained the age of 75 on an average, they were probed for their history of depression.

It was found that of the total surviving participants, 39 had been diagnosed with major depressive disorder at some point in their lifetime. People who had a body mass index (BMI) between 25 and 29.9 were considered obese. The data was adjusted for the age at which the BMI was recorded and the sex of the participants. On comparing the data of obese participants with children who had a normal weight but became overweight later in life, it was found that the risk of lifetime major depression was four times higher in obese children.

The authors concluded, “Our findings suggest that some of the underlying mechanisms linking overweight or obesity to depression stem from childhood.” They further added that a common genetic risk or poor self-confidence, often found in those who do not have the ideal body type, could be blamed.

Considering the fact that globally, the number of obese children is expected to reach 70 million by 2025, uncovering the link between childhood obesity and depression is not only important but crucial.

Prevent obesity to reduce depression risk

It is possible to prevent obesity as well as depression. Obesity can be controlled by taking some preventive measures and by encouraging healthy eating habits and regular physical activity in kids as well as adults; and depression with treatment.

If there is someone dealing with depression and seeking assistance, Sovereign Health can help. It is one of the leading depression treatment centers in California. Call our 24/7 helpline number 866-973-7164 or chat online with one of our experts for further information on our state-of-the-art mental health centers in California and in other parts of the U.S.

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