Sometimes I Feel Like a Piece of Bologna

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Depression Leads to Internal Body Fat in the Elderly

According to a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, older people who are depressed are much more likely to develop a dangerous type of internal body fat -- the kind that can lead to diabetes and heart disease -- than people who aren't depressed.

This is the first large study to track people over time to see if those with depression were more likely to gain weight. The participants, all in their 70s, were recruited in and around Memphis, Tenn., and Pittsburgh in 1997 and 1998 and were followed for five years.

Both groups, depressed and nondepressed, were overweight at the start of the study, with approximately the same average body mass index. When the researchers took into account other risk factors for obesity, including the depressed group's higher visceral fat levels in the beginning, they still found a connection between depression and visceral fat gain. The amount of fat gained could mean the difference between developing a cardiovascular disease or not.

Since many of our parents are depressed, this is important information to stay aware of. I’ve noticed that Mom has become increasingly depressed over the past few years. Anti-depressants caused worse side effects, but it’s important for her to stay active and engaged and it’s important for us to stay attuned to her mental health as well as her physical health.

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