Obesity is defined as weight that exceeds 15 percent of normal weight for height and body type. Morbid obesity exceeds 20 percent of optimum weight. Obesity is considered a disease state. Life expectancy may be decreased in overweight and obese individuals. An obese person is at high risk for developing a number of complications, including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, varicose veins, psychological stress, osteoarthritis, hyperlipidemia, and diabetes. However, weight is not the only factor in the development of disease. Body composition, the measurement of body fat and lean muscle mass, is now recognized as an important determinant of health. Body fat has important functions, including providing readily accessible energy during short periods of fasting. Fat is a structural component of organs, the nervous system, and skeletal muscles.
Depression has been classified as a mood disorder or “affective” disorder. Mood is defined as a powerful, sustained emotion that, in the extreme, markedly affects a person’s perception of the world and ability to adequately function in society. Mood disorders are among the most common health problems doctors see every day. Mood disorders are divided into two major categories: depressive disorders and bipolar disorders. Depression affects approximately 5 percent of the population at any given time, and about 30 percent of adults will suffer from depression over a lifetime. Women are two to three times more likely to experience depression than men.
A recent study investigated the relationship between abdominal obesity and depression. The study included 4,643 young adults who were followed for twenty years. The researchers weighed and measured the waist circumference and BMI of each participant. The subjects were then re-evaluated every five years where they were also asked to rank their own levels of depression. It was found that people who started out reporting high levels of depression increased in abdominal obesity and BMI at a faster rate than those who reported fewer symptoms of depression at year five. Researchers found that by year twenty, the waist circumference of the high-depression group was about 2.6 centimeters higher than those who reported lower levels of depression. These results indicate that people with depression seem to gain weight at a faster rate than people who report low levels of depression.1
1 Needham BL, Epel ES, Adler NE, et al. Trajectories of change in obesity and symptoms of depression: the CARDIA study. Am J Public Health. Jun2010;100(6):1040-6.