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Visceral Fat-Depression Link Explored in Women

Last Updated: May 06, 2009.

Middle-aged women with depression tend to have more visceral fat than their nondepressed counterparts, which could explain why they are at higher risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease, according to a study published online April 27 in Psychosomatic Medicine.

WEDNESDAY, May 6 (HealthDay News) -- Middle-aged women with depression tend to have more visceral fat than their nondepressed counterparts, which could explain why they are at higher risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease, according to a study published online April 27 in Psychosomatic Medicine.

Susan A. Everson-Rose, Ph.D., of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and colleagues conducted a study of 409 middle-aged women with a mean age of 50.4 years, of whom 44.7 percent were black and 55.3 percent were white. They looked at the women's levels of visceral and subcutaneous fat, as well as their scores on the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D).

The investigators found that women diagnosed as depressed due to a CES-D score of 16 or above had 24.5 percent more visceral fat than their counterparts whose CES-D scores were lower. The results stood even after accounting for race and level of physical activity, and obese and overweight women showed the strongest association, the researchers discovered.

"Depressive symptoms were independently related to visceral adipose tissue but not subcutaneous fat or waist circumference, suggesting depressive symptoms may contribute to excess risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease via increased visceral adiposity," the authors write. "Research is needed to examine mechanisms underlying this association and to determine whether depressive symptoms lead to greater accumulation of visceral adiposity over time."

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