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Gender differences in the association between adiposity and probable major depression: a cross-sectional study of 140,564 UK Biobank participants

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  • Zia Ul-Haq
  • Daniel J Smith
  • Barbara I Nicholl
  • Breda Cullen
  • Daniel Martin
  • Jason Mr Gill
  • Jonathan Evans
  • Beverly Roberts
  • Ian J Deary
  • John Gallacher
  • Matthew Hotopf
  • Nick Craddock
  • Daniel F Mackay
  • Jill P Pell

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    Rights statement: © Gender differences in the association between adiposity and probable major depression : a cross-sectional study of 140,564 UK Biobank participants. / Ul-Haq, Zia; Smith, Daniel J; Nicholl, Barbara I; Cullen, Breda; Martin, Daniel; Gill, Jason Mr; Evans, Jonathan; Roberts, Beverly; Deary, Ian J; Gallacher, John; Hotopf, Matthew; Craddock, Nick; Mackay, Daniel F; Pell, Jill P. In: BMC Psychiatry, Vol. 14, No. 1, 2014, p. 153.

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Original languageEnglish
Article number153
Number of pages10
JournalBMC Psychiatry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2014


BACKGROUND: Previous studies on the association between adiposity and mood disorder have produced contradictory results, and few have used measurements other than body mass index (BMI). We examined the association between probable major depression and several measurements of adiposity: BMI, waist circumference (WC), waist-hip-ratio (WHR), and body fat percentage (BF%).

METHODS: We conducted a cross-sectional study using baseline data on the sub-group of UK Biobank participants who were assessed for mood disorder. Multivariate logistic regression models were used, adjusting for potential confounders including: demographic and life-style factors, comorbidity and psychotropic medication.

RESULTS: Of the 140,564 eligible participants, evidence of probable major depression was reported by 30,145 (21.5%). The fully adjusted odds ratios (OR) for obese participants were 1.16 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.12, 1.20) using BMI, 1.15 (95% CI 1.11, 1.19) using WC, 1.09 (95% CI 1.05, 1.13) using WHR and 1.18 (95% CI 1.12, 1.25) using BF% (all p < 0.001). There was a significant interaction between adiposity and gender (p = 0.001). Overweight women were at increased risk of depression with a dose response relationship across the overweight (25.0-29.9 kg/m2), obese I (30.0-34.9 kg/m2), II (35.0-39.9 kg/m2) and III (≥40.0 kg/m2) categories; fully adjusted ORs 1.14, 1.20, 1.29 and 1.48, respectively (all p < 0.001). In contrast, only obese III men had significantly increased risk of depression (OR 1.29, 95% CI 1.08, 1.54, p = 0.006).

CONCLUSION: Adiposity was associated with probable major depression, irrespective of the measurement used. The association was stronger in women than men. Physicians managing overweight and obese women should be alert to this increased risk.

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