What comes first, depression or obesity? The answer may remain a mystery, say researchers from the Leiden University Medical Center and GGZ Rivierduinen, Leiden, the Netherlands.

The researchers examined the relationship between obesity and depression among 58,745 subjects from 15 previously published studies. The scientists discovered that obese people had a 55% increased risk of developing depression over time. Similarly, those suffering depression experienced a 58% increased risk of becoming obese. “The association between depression and obesity was stronger than the association between depression and overweight, which reflects a dose-response gradient,” stated the authors. The authors also noted that the relationship between obesity and future depression was greater among Americans than Europeans. The study was published in the March issue of Archives of General Psychiatry (2010; 67 [3], 220–29).

“In overweight or obese patients, mood should be monitored,” suggested the authors. “This awareness could lead to prevention, early detection and co-treatment for the ones at risk, which could ultimately reduce the burden of both conditions.”