Monday, December 15, 2008

Depression Linked to Increase in Abdominal Fat

Dutch researchers made the connection after studying adults
ages 70 to 79

(HealthDay News) -- There may be a link between depression and
abdominal obesity in older people, according to researchers in
Holland who studied almost 2,100 adults in their seventies.

The participants were screened for depression at the start of
the study (four percent had depression) and their levels of
abdominal and overall body fat were recorded and then checked
again five years later.

After the researchers adjusted for socio-demographic and other
factors associated with weight change, they concluded that
depression was associated with an increase in abdominal fat and
visceral fat (fat between the internal organs).

"Such an association was not found for an increase in overall
obesity and also appeared to be independent of changes in
overall obesity, suggesting that depressive symptoms are rather
specifically associated with fat gain in the visceral region,"
wrote Nicole Vogelzangs, of VU University Medical Center in
Amsterdam, and colleagues.

There are a number of ways that depression may increase
abdominal fat, the researchers said. Chronic stress and
depression may activate certain brain areas, resulting in
increased levels of the hormone cortisol, which promotes
accumulation of visceral fat. Or it may be that people with
depression have unhealthy behaviors, such as a poor diet, that
interact with other physiological factors and boost levels of
abdominal fat, the study authors said.

"Our longitudinal results suggest that clinically relevant
depressive symptoms give rise to an increase in abdominal
obesity, in particular visceral fat, which seems to be stronger
than and independent of overall obesity," the researchers

"This could also help explain why depression is often followed
by diabetes or cardiovascular disease. Future research should
further disentangle these mechanisms because this will yield
important information for prevention or treatment of
depression-related health consequences."

The study was published in the December issue of Archives of
General Psychiatry.

About 10 percent to 15 percent of older adults have depression,
the researchers said.

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