Obesity in Black Women May Signal Depression


CHICAGO — The odds of comorbid depression are 41% greater in obese than in nonobese African American women, according to a large national study.

Based upon this finding, obese African American women should routinely be screened for depression during office visits, Stephanie Sturgis said at the annual American Psychiatric Association's Institute on Psychiatric Services.

The study involved 9,343 randomly selected African American women from 36 states. They participated in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 2006 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey and completed the Patient Health Questionnaire-8 Anxiety and Depression Screen.

More than 40% of the women had a body mass index of 30 kg/m

In obese African American women, the adjusted odds of depression were significantly increased in those with a college degree, who were 2.75-fold more likely to be depressed than were those with less education.

Depression also was significantly more common in obese African American women who were moderate drinkers than in either obese heavy drinkers or nondrinkers. After adjustment for potential confounders, the moderate drinkers were 2.1-fold more likely to be depressed. In other studies, heavy drinking is associated with depression. Ms. Sturgis said the reason for the increased prevalence of depression in the current study is unclear.

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