BIRMINGHAM, Ala., Sept. 28 (UPI) -- Treating depression may play a key role in helping control obesity because belly fat and depression may be linked, U.S. researchers say.
The researchers asked study participants in years five, 10, 15 and 20 to rank their level of depression. The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health, finds people reporting high levels of depression increased in abdominal obesity and a weight/height measure -- the body mass index -- at a faster rate than those reporting fewer symptoms of depression.
Belinda Needham of the University of Alabama at Birmingham says in year five, the waist circumference of the high-depression group was significantly greater than among those who reported low depression, and this circumference was even greater later in the study period examined in year 15.
However, starting out overweight did not lead to changes in depression, Needham says.
"We found that everyone, as a whole, gained weight during the 15-year period of time that we examined," Needham says in statement. "However, the people who started out reporting high levels of depression increased in abdominal obesity and body mass index at a faster rate than those who reported fewer symptoms of depression at year five."