Is Obesity a Risk Factor for Depression in Males 55 and Older?

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2018-03-14

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Border, Rebecca
Jou, Melody
Milson, Christine
Hartos, Jessica

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Abstract

Purpose: Obesity has been associated with many health conditions, including an increased risk of depression. In the U.S., middle aged and older adults are more likely to be obese; however, the relationship between depression and obesity in older adult males is not well understood. Thus, the purpose of this study was to assess the relationship between depression and obesity in elderly men. Methods: This cross-sectional analysis used 2015 BRFSS data for males aged 55 and older from Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, and West Virginia. Multiple logistic regression analysis was used to assess the relationship between depression and obesity while controlling for: health conditions, activity limitations, age, ethnicity/race, education level, marital status, and metropolitan status. Results: Overall, approximately one-fifth of participants reported ever being diagnosed with depression or dysthymia (15-20%) and about one-third reported being obese (31-38%). After controlling for health and sociodemographic factors, depression was not significantly related to obesity in three out of four states. However, depression was significantly related to activity limitations (large effect size) and having two or more health conditions in all four states (large effect size). Conclusions: Depression was not related to obesity in men aged 55 and older, but was significantly related to activity limitations and having two or more health conditions. Limitations to this study include self-reported BMI which is subject to reporting error. Additionally, depression data was measured as lifetime incidence of depression or dysthymia, whereas BMI reflected current weight status. Clinicians should be informed on both depression and obesity in order to screen and educate elderly male patients. Because the two conditions are not related in this population, it is not indicated that practitioners evaluate for one due to the presence of the other. However, if a patient presents with activity limitations or two or more health conditions, it is recommended the practitioner screens for depression, and vice versa.

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