Is Weight Status Related to Depression in Young Adult Females?




Sanford, Jill
Hooda, Norin
Curry, Alexa
Hung, Alexandra
Hartos, Jessica


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Introduction: Clinical depression is prevalent in young adult females in the U.S. and leads to physical and psychosocial illness and mortality. While many risk factors for depression have been previously studied, little information is available on the relationship between depression and weight status in young adult females. Thus, the purpose of this study was to assess the relationship between depression and weight status in young adult women. Methods: This cross-sectional analysis used 2014 BRFSS data for females of ages 18 to 35 from Arkansas, Oregon, Alabama, and Oklahoma. Multiple logistic regression analysis was used to assess the relationship between depression and being overweight while controlling for ethnicity/race, education level, employment status, income level, exercise, and tobacco use. Results: Few participants reported ever being diagnosed with any form of depression or dysthymia (22-32%) and the majority of participants reported being overweight (47-64%). After controlling for psychosocial and demographic factors, depression was not significantly related to weight status in Arkansas, Oregon, Alabama, or Oklahoma. Depression was significantly related to high income (large effect sizes) in Alabama and Oklahoma. Conclusions: In general population samples of young adult females, few reported depression, and the majority reported being overweight, but depression was not related to weight status. However, depression was related to income level. Limitations to this study include inability to assess the relationship over time and self-reported data with the possibility of inaccuracy. It is recommended that primary care practitioners become informed, screen, and educate their young adult female patients on depression and weight status independently due to an abundance of adverse effects. However, due to the absence of a relationship between the two conditions, it is not indicated that practitioners evaluate one due to the presence of another.