The Tangled Relationship Between Obesity and Depression

Obesity and depression seem to travel together. This link is a tricky one and the nature of the relationship presents a real challenge for scientists to unravel. But one thing is sure. These two diseases are rising in parallel.

An Unmistakable Rise in Severe Psychological Distress

Look no further than the dramatic rise in deaths of despair. Opioids, alcohol, and suicides have brought a dramatic spike in deaths, especially after the great recession. At the same time, obesity rates are continuing to rise.

The relationship between obesity and depression goes both ways. A systematic review in JAMA tells us that people with obesity are 55% more likely to have depression. And people with depression are 58% more likely to develop obesity.

The Need for Answers

Though the fact of this relationship is clear enough, the reasons for it are not so clear. It might be that people with depression experience stresses and physical responses that bring obesity. Certainly people with obesity encounter bias and discrimination that can contribute further to obesity.

Or perhaps, a common factor, separate from both of these chronic diseases, contributes to them. Regardless, finding solutions for this tandem problem is essential, as Bill Dietz recently explained:

We need to find synergistic therapies. Or it’s going to be the same kind of messy system in which we spend a lot of money and don’t get any return. This is an important area, and I don’t think people are trained to deal with it.

Click here for more from Futurism and here for more from CDC.

Melancholy, painting by Edvard Munch / WikiArt

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August 17, 2017