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Association between depression, anxiety and weight change in young adults

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posted on 2023-05-20, 11:58 authored by Sahle, BW, Monique BreslinMonique Breslin, Kristy Sanderson, Patton, G, Terry DwyerTerry Dwyer, Alison VennAlison Venn, Seana GallSeana Gall
Background: To investigate whether there are bi-directional associations between anxiety and mood disorders and body mass index (BMI) in a cohort of young adults.

Methods: We analysed data from the 2004-2006 (baseline) and 2009-2011 (follow-up) waves of the Childhood Determinants of Adult Health study. Lifetime DSM-IV anxiety and mood disorders were retrospectively diagnosed with the Composite International Diagnostic Interview. Potential mediators were individually added to the base models to assess their potential role as a mediator of the associations.

Results: In males, presence of mood disorder history at baseline was positively associated with BMI gain (β = 0.77, 95% CI: 0.14-1.40), but baseline BMI was not associated with subsequent risk of mood disorder. Further adjustment for covariates, including dietary pattern, physical activity, and smoking reduced the coefficient (β) to 0.70 (95% CI: 0.01-1.39), suggesting that the increase in BMI was partly mediated by these factors. In females, presence of mood disorder history at baseline was not associated with subsequent weight gain, however, BMI at baseline was associated with higher risk of episode of mood disorder (RR per kg/m2: 1.04, 95% CI: 1.01-1.08), which was strengthened (RR per kg/m2 = 1.07, 95% CI: 1.00-1.15) after additional adjustment in the full model. There was no significant association between anxiety and change in BMI and vice-versa.

Conclusion: The results do not suggest bidirectional associations between anxiety and mood disorders, and change in BMI. Interventions promoting healthy lifestyle could contribute to reducing increase in BMI associated with mood disorder in males, and excess risk of mood disorder associated with BMI in females.


Publication title

BMC Psychiatry



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Menzies Institute for Medical Research


BioMed Central Ltd.

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

© The Author(s). 2019 Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

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  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Behaviour and health

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