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Depressed? Losing Weight Might Help

posted 03:39 AM EST, Fri July 31, 2009
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Depressed? Losing Weight Might Help © Photo Credit: Helgasms

Depressed people participating in a weight loss study not only lost pounds, they beat the blues as well!

Traditionally, people experiencing clinical depression are not invited to participate in weight loss trials, out of a fear that participation could worsen mental health symptoms. A new study funded by the National Institute of Health suggests that scientists looking to protect depressed subjects - may have had it backwards.

Dr. Lucy Faulconbridge, out of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, led a research team that evaluated the effects of a behavioral weight loss program on depressed study subjects. She says that while researchers in the past have avoided using depressed subjects in obesity trials with good intentions, that no empirical evidence supports this exclusion.  

She and her team led 51 subjects (with or without clinical depression) through a 6 month weight loss program of lifestyle modification and meal replacements. Non depressed subjects lost slightly more weight (11% of body mass) than depressed subjects (8%) but importantly, after weight loss, depressed subjects also felt significantly fewer symptoms of depression (compared to pre-weight loss).

A questionnaire was used to measure pre and post weight loss depressive symptoms severity.

All study participants showed improvements in insulin, HDL cholesterol and glucose levels and depressed patients additionally reduced their triglyceride levels.

Obesity is associated with an increased risk of heart attack or stroke, and so is depression; and so conceivably, obese depressed people have very elevated risks of cardiovascular injury or death. Noting this double-risk, Faulconbridge said, “Reductions in both body weight and symptoms of depression are likely to improve long-term health outcomes”  

Read more at the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior

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