Association between obesity and depression in middle-aged women

Gregory E. Simon, Evette J. Ludman, Jennifer A. Linde, Belinda H. Operskalski, Laura Ichikawa, Paul Rohde, Emily A. Finch, Robert W. Jeffery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

222 Scopus citations


Objective: Evaluate the association between obesity and depression among middle-aged women. Methods: A total of 4641 female health plan enrollees aged 40-65 years completed a structured telephone interview including self-reported height and weight, the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ) assessment of depression; a brief measure of rate was 62%. Results: Prevalence of moderate or severe depression increased from 6.5% among those with body mass index (BMI) under 25 to 25.9% among those with BMI over 35. Prevalence of obesity increased from 25.4% among those with no depressive symptoms to 57.8% among those with moderate to severe depression. Independent of obesity, depression was associated with significant reductions in frequency of moderate (4.6 vs. 5.4 times per week) or vigorous (2.8 vs. 3.7 times per week) physical activity. Depression was associated with significantly higher daily caloric intake (1831 vs. 1543) among those with BMI over 30. Conclusions: Among middle-aged women, depression is strongly and consistently associated with obesity, lower physical activity and (among the obese) higher caloric intake. Public health approaches to reducing the burden of obesity or depression must consider the strong association between these two common conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32-39
Number of pages8
JournalGeneral Hospital Psychiatry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008


  • Depression
  • Middle-aged women
  • Obesity


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