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You are here : 3-RX.com > Home > Depression - Fat, Dietary -

Depression tied to build-up of hidden belly fat

Depression • • Fat, DietaryMay 25, 09

A new study links depression to an accumulation of visceral fat—deep hidden fat deposits around the abdominal organs—which confers a greater risk of heart disease and diabetes than the more obvious subcutaneous fat that collects just under the skin.

Depression is known to increase the risk of heart disease, but just how they are connected has been unclear.

“Our results suggest that central adiposity, which is commonly called belly fat, is an important pathway by which depression contributes to the risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes,” principal investigator Dr. Lynda H. Powell of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago said in a prepared statement.

“In our study, depressive symptoms were clearly related to deposits of visceral fat, which is the type of fat involved in disease,” she added.

In the study of 409 middle-aged women, Powell’s team found a strong association between depressive symptoms and belly fat, as seen on a CT scan, especially among overweight and obese women.

As reported in the medical journal Psychosomatic Medicine, women with high scores on a commonly used depression scale had 24.5 percent more visceral fat than women with lower scores on the depression scale. The results were the same in African American and White women.

The researchers did not find an association between depressive symptoms and the more visible subcutaneous fat.

The association between depression and visceral fat held up even when the researchers accounted for other variables that might explain the accumulation of this type of fat, such as the level of physical activity.

Depression, the researchers propose, may trigger the accumulation of belly fat by boosting production of the stress hormone cortisol and certain inflammatory compounds in the body. More research, they say, is needed to explore the association between depression and belly fat over time.

SOURCE: Psychosomatic Medicine, May 2009.

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