“Previous research has shown an association of depression and obesity with low education, but we’re showing it also exists with women who have higher education as well,” said lead study author Ashley Kranjac from the Rice University in Houston, US.
“I was surprised by the findings. Usually higher education is associated with all the good things, like higher income, better neighbourhoods, greater access to health care and better overall health and you’d never think education and obesity combined could have this effect on mental health,” Kranjac added.
Even highly educated obese women have double the risk of depression compared with women of normal weight and same educational attainment, finds a new study.
The findings were published in the journal Obesity Research and Clinical Practice. The study examined 1,928 adult healthy women aged 35-80.
The team used the standard weight categories to define normal weight (BMI or bodymass index of 18.5-24.9), overweight (BMI 25-29.9), obese I (30-34.9), obese II (35-39.9) and obese III (BMI greater than 39.9).
The BMI classifications are related to body-fat levels and predict the likelihood of developing obesity-related health problems.
Trained professional interviewers took physical measurements for body-mass index and conducted standardised, in-person interviews.
The detailed interviews included questions dealing with demographic traits, medical history, diet and several aspects of alcohol consumption throughout the person’s lifetime.
All participants also completed a questionnaire, a tool designed to measure depression status among the general population.
The findings showed, obese I women’s odds of depressive symptoms were 43 per cent higher than normal-weight women and the odds for obese II/ III women were approximately 57 per cent higher than for women of normal weight.
“By studying this association in healthy women without other chronic diseases or disorders, we are better able to understand the associations between depression, increased weight status and the impact of educational attainment,” Kranjac noted.