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Improving Mood Could Help Obese Women Lose Weight

Many women who suffer from obesity also suffer from depression, and a new study has found that improving one’s mood may be the key to losing weight. The study cites previous studies that show that having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more (which is classified as obesity) increases the risk of depression by 50 to 150 percent.

Lead author Gregory Simon, M.D., of Group Health Research Institute in Seattle, Washington, said that he believes the relationship between depression and physical activity goes both ways; increased physical activity leads to an improvement in mood, and improvement in mood leads to increased physical activity.

Simon and colleagues examined 203 obese women between the ages of 40 and 65 with an average BMI of 38.3 who underwent tests to measure their weight, depression score, food intake, and physical activity. The women were divided into two groups: one focused on weight loss and the other on weight loss and depression.

Both groups received up to 26 group sessions over a year, and researchers followed up with participants at 6, 12, and 24 months. Their results showed that at six months, of the women who had at least a one-half point decrease on the depression scale, 38 percent had lost at least 5 percent of their body weight. Of the women who had no decrease (or an increase) in their depression scores, 21 percent lost the same amount of body weight.

Babak Roshanaei-Moghaddam, M.D., of the psychiatry and behavioral sciences department at the University of Washington in Seattle, said that most weight loss programs don’t pay enough attention to the screening and treatment of depression. Looking for signs of depression and addressing ways to improve mood could help people lose weight and lead a healthier, happier life.

Source: Science Daily, Treating Women’s Depression Might Help Them Lose Weight, December 10, 2010

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