Posted July 30, 2009

Weight loss program could counteract depressed mood and reduce risk factors for heart disease in obese patients, a new study shows.

The study, to be presented on Tuesday at the annual meeting of the U.S. Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB), finds that after a six-month behavioral weight loss program, depressed patients not only lost 8 percent of their initial weight but also reported significant improvements in their symptoms of depression, as well as reductions in triglycerides, which are a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

Fifty-one depressed and non-depressed subjects were recruited into the study to follow a supervised weight loss program that included lifestyle modification and meal replacements. Both depressed and non-depressed subjects lost significant amounts of weight, with depressed individuals losing 8 percent of their initial body weight, compared with 11 percent loss by non- depressed individuals.

After six months on the weight loss program, depressed subjects also showed significant improvement of their depressive symptoms, based on a questionnaire. Additional significant improvements in glucose, insulin and high density lipoprotein cholesterol were observed in both depressed and non-depressed subjects, and depressed individuals showed reduced levels of triglycerides in the blood, which have been linked to risk of heart disease and stroke.

“Depression and obesity are independently associated with increased risk of heart disease and stroke, and so reductions in both body weight and symptoms of depression are likely to improve long-term health outcomes,” said Dr. Lucy Faulconbridge, of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, who is also lead author of the study.

Faulconbridge said the latest findings suggest that depressed, obese individuals can indeed lose clinically significant amounts of weight, and that weight loss can actually reduce symptoms of depression. It also highlight the need for further research into the effects of weight loss in individuals suffering from psychiatric disorders.

Date: July 27, 2009


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