Depressed people gain belly fat

Dec 03, 2008
People suffering from depression are more inclined to accumulate fat in the abdominal area, which is associated with a number of health risks such as cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, breast cancer and others, study says.

A 5-year study called Health, Ageing, and Body Composition was conducted by Nicole Vogelzangs, from VU University Medical Centre, Amsterdam. It included 2,088 adults aged between 70 and 75. Scientists defined depression in participants, using the Depression test and also calculated body mass index and the percentage of body fat to define overall obesity. Separately, researchers included the data on the amount of abdominal fat by measuring waist circumference (the width of the body at about the level of the navel) with the help of CT imaging method.

Other factors such as general obesity and other diseases were taken into account. The results showed that participants with depression symptoms, defined at the beginning of the study, were twice as likely to gain abdominal fat and have their waist circumference increased.

The findings suggest that older people with depression symptoms are more likely to have extra pounds around their belly and it was not related to overall obesity.

Scientists say that patients suffering from depression should be warned about the risks of accumulating the abdominal fat as it may lead to other health conditions such as heart disease or stroke, high blood pressure and colorectal cancer.

Visceral fat (or abdominal fat) present health risks due to the fact that fat found in the deeper tissues surrounds body organs, which impairs their functioning. It contributes to metabolic syndrome, characterized by insulin resistance and high blood pressure.

Some people are prone to gain weight mainly in the abdominal area, having generally normal weight. Many women accumulate abdominal fat after menopause due to hormonal changes. Abdominal fat is considered more dangerous to person's health than fat accumulated on other body parts because of its location between abdominal organs, which in its turn affect their normal functioning.