Depression and abdominal fat have been linked in a study reported in the December issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, a JAMA/Archives Journal. The study reported that older adults with symptoms of depression appear likely to gain fat on the abdomen, but not overall fat.
The findings may affect a significant number of adults, because about 10 to 15 percent of older adults have depression symptoms, according to the author’s background information. Depression has been associated ht cardiovascular disease, cardiac mortality (death), diabetes, life-threatening diseased and major disability diseases, according to the study authors
Visceral fat is another term for abdominal fat Visceral fat is the abdominal fat that surrounds internal organs, rather than the subcutaneous fat that lies just under the skin. Mayo Clinic researchers found in a 2007 study that even a slight gain of Visceral fat can affect blood flow, possible predisposed a person to heart attack or stroke.
The study on depression and Visceral fat was by Nicole Vogelzangs, MSC of VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, the Netherlands and colleagues. Researchers studied 2,088 adults, aged 70 to 79 years old
Study participants were screened for depression at the beginning of the study. Their abdominal obesity was recorded at the beginning of the study and after five years.
Researchers adjusted for socio demographic and other characteristics associated with weight changes. Depression was associated with fat on the abdomen, independent of the changes in overall obesity.
Study authors noted theories for the relationship between depression and abdominal fat:
Chronic stress and depress may activate certain brain areas, leading to increased levels of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol promotes accumulation of Visceral fat.
People who are depressed may have unhealthier lifestyle, such as poor diet, which could interact with physiological factors and produce abdominal obesity. Lifestyle choices including poor diet and lack of exercise are known factors in overall obesity.
According to the authors, this research may help to explain why depression of often followed by diabetes or cardiovascular disease. Future research could yield importation information about the prevention of treatment of depression-related illnesses.
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