Depressive mood and obesity in US adults: Comparison and moderation by sex, age, and race

Academic Article


  • Objective:Sustained depressive mood is a gateway symptom for a major depressive disorder. This paper investigated whether the association between depressive mood and obesity differs as function of sex, age, and race in US adults after controlling for socio-economic variables of martial status, employment status, income level and education level.Methods:A total of 44 800 nationally representative respondents from the 2001 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey were studied. Respondents were classified as having experienced a depressive mood if they felt sad, blue, or depressed at least for 1 week in the previous month. The depressive mood was operationalized in terms of duration and sustenance, both defined based on number of days with depressive mood: 7+ and 14+ days. Age groups were classified as young (18-64 years) and old (65+ years). Obesity status was classified as: not overweight/obese (BMI<25); overweight (25≤BMI<30); obese (BMI≥30).Results:Prevalence of prior-month depressive mood was 14.3 and 7.8% for 7+ and 14+ days, respectively. Controlling for race and socio-economic variables, both young overweight and obese women were significantly more likely to have experienced depressive mood than nonoverweight/nonobese women. Young overweight, but not obese, men were significantly more likely to have experienced depressive mood than nonoverweight/nonobese men. Young obese women were also significantly more likely to have a sustained depressive mood than nonoverweight/nonobese women. For old respondents, depressive mood and its sustenance were not associated with obesity in either sex.Discussion:The relationship between the depressive mood and obesity is dependent upon gender, age, and race. Young obese women, Hispanics in particular, are much more prone to depressive mood than nonobese women. Future studies testing associations between depression and obesity should be sensitive to the influence of these demographic and socio-economic variables. © 2006 Nature Publishing Group All rights reserved.
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    Author List

  • Heo M; Pietrobelli A; Fontaine KR; Sirey JA; Faith MS
  • Start Page

  • 513
  • End Page

  • 519
  • Volume

  • 30
  • Issue

  • 3