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Mind & Mood

Depression and obesity: Confirming the link

January 1, 2013

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Being overweight is a risk factor for conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and even certain kinds of cancer. Now a study from France that followed more than 9,000 older adults for 10 years confirms that obesity is also associated with depression. "Yes, obesity and depression are linked. And the causation probably goes in both directions," says Dr. Michael Craig Miller, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Miller explains that depression and obesity feed each other. "Obesity affects the parts of the brain that regulate your mood. When you're depressed, low energy and motivation can translate into less activity and exercise. The result may be weight gain," he says. "If both problems have a hold on you, it's hard to break their grip." Excess weight has adverse effects on the health of your heart, knees, and hips.

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