Depression is linked to adolescent obesity

Depressed adolescents are at an increased risk for development and persistence of obesity, according to data from a nationally representative group of 9,374 adolescents in grades 7 through 12. Teenagers in the study were evaluated twice, a year apart. Initial reports revealed that 12.9 percent of the group were overweight, 9.7 were obese and 8.8 percent had depressed mood. Having a depressed mood was associated with the development of obesity at follow-up one year later. The likelihood of becoming obese doubled in teenagers who were depressed. However, being obese at the beginning of the study was not predictive of depression at the follow-up a year later.

Researchers believe that the relationship between obesity and depression during adolescence is important to understand because this is the developmental period in which both conditions may have their origins. They write that “understanding the neurobiological pathways and socio-environmental determinants that are shared by both depression and obesity” may help to prevent and treat these two chronic conditions.


“A Prospective Study of Depression in the Development and Persistence of Adolescent Obesity,” Pediatrics 2002, Volume 109, Number 3, pp. 497-504

December 2002/January 2003 Volume 16 Number 1

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