First, I reviewed the article “Obesity and Depressive Symptoms in Mid-Life: A Population-Based Cohort Study” by Mulugeta, Zhou, Power, and Hyppönen. Mulugeta et al. questioned the relationship between obesity and depression due to the existence of conflicting data on this issue. Data were obtained from the British cohort born in 1958. The revised Clinical Interview Schedule-Revised was used to screen for depressive symptoms at age 45. In turn, the Mental Health Inventory-5 was used to screen for depressive symptoms at age 50. General and central obesity were determined by body mass index and waist circumference. To better understand the link between obesity and depressive symptoms, the authors examined the putative links between lifestyle factors and depressive symptoms. Alcohol consumption, smoking, sedentary lifestyle, and fruit consumption were associated with depression at 50 years after adjusting for depressive symptoms at 45 years, gender, sociodemographic, and other lifestyle factors. The results of a prospective analysis showed that obesity contributes to the development of depressive symptoms in women. Conversely, no causal relationship was found in men. The prevalence of depression in the population is 17%, and in obese individuals 29-56% (Mulugeta, et al. 2). Notably, the finding of a higher likelihood of depressive symptoms in general and central obesity is consistent with several other previous studies. Thus, Mulugeta et al., investigating the links between obesity and depression, indicate that obesity is the root cause.
Second, I reviewed the article “Association of Depression and Obesity Is Mediated by Weight Perception” by Paulitsch, Demenech, and Dumith. In this study, the authors investigate how obesity and negative body image contribute to the development of depression. The researchers analyzed a sample of 1,238 people. They were divided into several groups, including those who were single, more educated, did not abuse alcohol, did not smoke, and did not engage in physical activity. The presence and degree of depression were assessed using a particular psychological method, Beck’s Depression Inventory. It is based on vulnerability, which describes two levels of cognitive processes in depression: superficial and deep. The data were correlated with indicators of the norm, and non-parametric tests were carried out. According to Paulitsch et al., weight perception mediated the association between depression and obesity in 39.3% of participants. Paulitsch et al. note that obesity causes social stigma in various areas of everyday life, including employment and education. Furthermore, it affects psychological well-being and provokes low self-esteem, which leads to depressive disorders. The data presented in this study show higher levels of depression in those who are obese and perceive themselves as obese, compared to those who are not obese and who do not have this perception. Thus, Paulitsch et al. concluded that obesity and feeling fat had a potentiating effect, significantly increasing the likelihood of depression.
Mulugeta, Anwar, et al. “Obesity and Depressive Symptoms in Mid-Life: A Population-Based Cohort Study.” BMC Psychiatry, vol. 18, no. 297, 2018, pp.1-10.
Paulitsch, Renata G., et al. “Association of Depression and Obesity Is Mediated by Weight Perception.” Journal of Health Psychology, vol. 26, no. 11, 2021, pp. 2020–2030.