The Effect Of Obesity On Depression: [Essay Example], 2684 words GradesFixer
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The Effect of Obesity on Depression

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Obesity and Depression today are one of the biggest issues that our societies are facing. These two problems are looked differently upon by the masses however they both share common links and connections between in which both interact mutually. With modern research and techniques, its now possible to understand the fundamental causes that both share together.

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In this paper, the focus with is on how these two connect and how obesity in reality leads to depression. Obesity on one hand is described as “abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health” (WHO). This leads to a persons growth that’s is considered abnormal is terms of their body shape and chubbiness. This phenomenon causes a person to look down upon them selves and they feel ashamed of their body size and shape due to our societies conception of an ideal body shape and weight. This leads to low esteem for the obese person and people stereotype him/her as just another “unwanted” or “useless” person.

This however is a great problem and it leads to the worse outcomes possible such as the victim falling into serious depression or even having thoughts about suicide. This brings us to depression, which is defined as “a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act” (American Psychiatric Association). It directly leads to sadness, grief and loneliness to the point that the victim experiences one the worst pains (psychological) they have ever endured causing them mental illnesses, changes in their attitudes, changes in their personalities (i. e. introverted) and generally detaching oneself from others simply to avoid getting judged by people’s perceptions. According to a “Pseudo-Panel Analysis” the panel obtained data from the ‘Behavioural Risk Factor Surveillance System” from 1997 to 2008, a direct link was identified between BMI having a positive effect on depression highlighting that this stigma of obesity triggers depression proving that the two problems are interlinked.


The Obesity action coalition(OAC) define obesity as an accumulation of excess body fat by either environmental or genetic means that are difficult to control when dieting. There are many methods of determining obesity but the most used method is by Body Mass Index(BMI), BMI is defined as a value derived from the height and weight of an individual to determine if a person is overweight or underweight. Causes of Obesity: Obesity generally refers to the state of one being exceedingly overweight, meaning, an individual who outgrows an average individual of their age/height. This results as the person has a higher BMI (Body Mass Index) compared to what is considered normal for their age and/or height. There are several causes of Obesity, which will be talked about in this paper, however, inactivity or less physical excursion is mainly highlighted in majority of the articles.

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As also proven by research, individuals, who do not exercise and don’t take part in physical activities tend to become lazy and lethargic. They become easily fatigued and gradually lose their stamina. This leads to the increase in their eating habits as they need a source to gain energy and instead of exercising for energy, they resort to the easier way of obtaining carbohydrate for quick boosts of energy. The intake of food itself determines your body weight; choosing fatty foods with high levels of cholesterol and sugar over healthy alternatives such as fruits, whole grains and vegetables is a key factor that increases weight. Time management also plays a vital role in the lives of people, especially the working middle class in developed countries. This is because people choose fast food items over home-made healthy food to save time and effort, however, the fast-food has an excessive amount of calories which also leads to obesity. Another cause of obesity is the dependency on technology.

Despite the age, everyone is addicted to technology, and instead of “going out”, people prefer spending an unhealthy amount of time on their electrical devices. This leads to minimal physical activity and thus, weights gain. The lack of knowledge of healthy living also plays a role in obesity. People should educate their children to choose wisely and consume healthy alternatives and not junk food for majority of the time, if not all. Another factor is family trends/genetics. As children follow their parents, they adapt their parents eating habits, thus, if the parents eat a lot, so will the children, developing the same eating habits and gaining weight. Moreover, other factors may be, boredom, income-related so one cant afford healthy options, genetic problems, unavailability of healthy options, side effects of medications, also disease-related side effects; “hypothyroidism, insulin, cushing’s syndrome” all lead to gain in weight.


The American Psychiatric association, center of disease control and prevention and nation institute of mental health define depression as a mood disorder depression is defined as a mood disorder, that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. according to all editions of DSM-5, a product of 10 years of effort by hundreds of international experts in a fields of medicine, it states that all symptoms of depression are all equal representations of severity. Many people have periods when they’re feeling down at one point or another, but depression is when a person is consistently sad for weeks maybe months at a time.

Types of depression

  • major depression;
  • dysthymia,
  • adjustment disorders,
  • bipolar disorders.

Depression is known as a mental defect that statistically occurs in at least 10 percent of the population at points in their lives. There is no specific cause of depression.

Biological causes

There are several biological factors believed to contribute to depression but their exact mechanisms are unclear. Some of these factors include;

  • Neurotransmitters; a central nervous system disruption of serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine levels, are known to be the direct cause of depression.
  • Biological differences in the brain size; people with depression according to mayo clinic have noticeable difference in brain size compared to people without the mood disorder. There are brain structures such as the hippocampus that appears smaller in people that suffer depression.
  • Hormones; hormone changes may cause depression; hormone changes that occur in menopause, pregnancy (Postpartum depression is a mood disorder that begins after childbirth and usually lasts beyond six weeks), menstrual periods, as well as also seen in thyroid deficiencies.
  • Though no single life effect is known to cause depression, they can trigger or in fact worsen depression. Early childhood trauma is known to cause depression in children, teens and adolescence.
  • Genetic inheritance; depression has been discovered to be more common in people that have relatives that also suffer from this depression.

Environmental causes

Some life events known to trigger or worsen depression include;

  • Child birth
  • Death of a loved one
  • Financial problems
  • Accidents
  • Loss of job
  • Continuous exposure to violence, negligence and abuse make people who are already susceptible to depression even more vulnerable to it.

Depression in children and teens is traced to maybe early exposure to trauma. Trauma such as, rape, accidents, death of loved one and so on. Children are known to have more severe effects of depression due to neglect most especially by parents and eventually leads to suicide by child. There are a variety of symptoms to diagnose depression,. Symptoms range from mild depression to severe depression. Mild depression symptoms can include constant abnormal tiredness, consistent lowness in spirit and severe symptoms include, hallucination, and delusional thinking symptoms of psychosis, suicidal thoughts that if not handled appropriately could lead to death. Other physical symptoms include lack of sex drive, lack of interest in hobbies, aches and lack of appetite. Some patients with depression do not present with physical symptoms of depression, some people seem upbeat and cheerful but inside suffer symptoms of depression.

Depression is linked to many more health problems such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and multiple sclerosis may also have a higher risk of depression. Obesity and Depression have always been recognized as two individual problems that occur, however, over the past years, they have been thought of in a different dimension and have proven to be interlinked. In this paper, the focus is to examine how obesity leads to depression. Obesity, or in other words, excessive weight gain, leads directly to depression as one becomes “big”, they become concerned about their physical appearance and how others may view them differently. “Body-shaming” plays a vital role in depression as you get “unwanted attention” with regards to your weight, meaning, being stared at for being overweight in public. This can bring one’s self-esteem down and impact an individual psychologically, deteriorating their health. Depression has been recognized to have a direct impact of the central nervous system.

Moreover, both obesity and depression share common symptoms such as overeating, irregular sleeping, feeling of guilty, being “useless”, and even suicidal thoughts, anxiety, isolation, abuse, or a loss of a significant relation. According to “Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), depression is a measure of mental disorder and shares symptoms with obesity. Groups of individuals from 15 states in the USA were examined over phone and results showed that people who didn’t feel emotionally stable over the past 30 days of the survey ate more than usual, comparing their weights prior to the emotional instability”.

The individuals further stated that they felt embarrassed of the weight gain which again affected their mood, making them more depressed. This proves that the two problems are related and that obesity directly causes changes in the emotional state. There is a mutual relationship between obesity and depression. There are common factors between both of these issues. These factors include; weight stigma and depression, metabolic syndrome in connection to major depression, pain associated with obesity, psychological distress leading to reduced physical activity and fitness in children, the specific role of adiposity-driven inflammation in depression, the tryptophan factor relation to depression and the perception of an ideal body image leading to body contouring surgeries.

Firstly, a survey conducted with the sample size of forty-four overweight and obese individuals of various ethnic backgrounds, age groups and genders and having a BMI of 37. 2 (on average) indicated that the stigma of coping and its adapting coping was directly and positively related to depression. The coping responses show the individuals facing biases and discriminations due to their obesity causes them to fall into adverse physiological outcomes simply by the mistreatment of other individuals. Next, recent epidemiological studies reveal that MeS components that include things like visceral obesity, hypertension and insulin resistance demonstrate a mutual depression occurance in patients.

The MeS is associated with unhealthy life style and could potentially cause cardiovascular diseases, stress and nervous system problems, immune system defects, inflammation and even premature death. The hormones, ghrelin and leptin that are generally associated with mood regulated are seen in variation in the depressed patients. Moreover, obesity can also lead to pain (both physical and psychological) that can disrupt the metabolic processes as well as increasing the mechanical stress on an individual leading them to anxiety and depression due to disturbed moods, eating habits and poor metabolism. Furthermore, an Australian longitudinal LOOK study reveals that stress leads to a reduced amount of fitness in children.

The study elaborated that six hundred and seventy six children were tested though multiple child depression questionnaire’s and fitness assessments over a span of four years in which the results showed that a child who demonstrated and showed more signs and symptoms of depression (regardless of his age and gender) was likely less active and fit. And finally, tryptophan also plays a major role towards depression. This amino acid has vital functions in human body in terms of metabolic functions. Tryptophan triggers the synthesis of serotonin (5-HT) that is associated with obesity and other peripheral disorders. Thereby a reduced TRP in diet could lead to obesity and get depression triggered in the individual. Therefore, these are some of the important factors that relate obesity and depression proving that obesity leads to depression.

Statistics of how obesity affects depression

Studies done brought to the notice of the world that twenty five percent of obese individual have the likelihood to experience depression. In countries like united states of America, obese people experienced, horrible emotional tantrums like poor self-image, low self-esteem, and social isolation. These are all social factors that leads to depression in obese individuals. People suffering from obesity also experienced been blacklisted or repudiate, stereotyped, prejudiced, and victimized. Females do accumulate fats mostly below the waist and abdominal region, hips, buttocks, thighs, while their male counterparts are susceptible to accumulate fats mostly above the waist, around the midriff and loose there last. It’s a widely known facts that men accumulate less than eighteen percent of total body fats and women less than twenty five percent excess to these percentages is not specifically dangerous to health, until percentage reach thirty five percent and forty percent body fats respectively.

Thirty nine percent of adults around the age of eighteen years and above, were overweight two thousand and fourteen and thirteen percent were obese. Many years it has been deducted that obesity mostly leads to depression. In studies by Luppino and colleagues, it was noticed, that denouement of obesity on the building up of depression was vigorous in American studies, possibility of biological link between obesity and depression. Luppino and colleagues in their studies made it clear that the mechanism underlying obesity and depression onset, can be different over cultures, socio cultural system could be different and more serious in one culture, when compared with other cultures.

According to procedia social and behavioral sciences it noted that obesity does not statistically cause serious changes in depression rate. Also, a study from the national health and nutrition examination survey (NHANES) – III data revealed that ninety fifth to hundredth percentile of obese adolescents have the prevalence of major depression, amounted to a notable significant level, twenty percent for males and 30 percent for girls. In a lengthy study of enormous procreation cohort from Northern Finland, measures of obesity at age limit of fourteen and thirty-one years old was investigated, accompanied by the measures of depression at the age of age of thirty-one years, discovered that the obesity of adolescents was related to depression in adults.

A study from Swallen and colleagues uses the study of 1996 national longitudinal study of Adolescent health revealed that among the youngest adolescents, obesity was connected, to low self esteem and depression. In the society compared, to people with normal weight, excessively fat individual are prone to discrimination, low self-esteem, rejection, mockery, anxiety, suicidal attempt and anxiety and other health implication outcome like diabetes, heart failures, hyper cholesterol, and arthritis. FAT FACTS. Forty-two millions of young people below the age of five were overweight or obese in 2013. Worldwide obesity has more than doubled since nineteen eighty. In two thousand and twenty four, more than 1. 9 billion adults eighteen years and above were over weight, of these over six millions were obesed. For a long term weight loss one needs to expand approximately four thousand calories to lose one pound of fat.


In order to relate the two issues of obesity and depression and to prove that obesity leads to depression, we as a group constructed a paper that highlights the correlation between these issues and gives the reader an insight of their mutual interaction. This was done by the use of creditable and authentic literature reviews from accredited research journals such as; pubmed, Oxford Acedemic, American Psychiatric Association and NCBI providing us with the statistics and important information that we needed to prove our thesis. This paper focused on examining the impact of obesity on depression and how the two individual problems are interlinked. To further examine and investigate the problem, we constructed a paper that clearly highlights the two issues the two issues of concern; obesity and depression, and this has been done using literature reviews from accredited research journals available online, namely, Pub Med, PMC (USA National Library of Medicine), EveryDay Health which has a board-certified committee of doctors and researchers, Oxford Acedemic (John’s Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and NCBI. These resources proved very insightful with regards to our topic and research.

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