The relationship between obesity and depression
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It is well known obesity rates have climbed steadily since the 1960s. The result is an increasing burden on healthcare in the world and especially, the United States. Those costs are not simply financial, but obesity, defined as a chronic disease of excess fat, has many comorbid diseases associated with it, along with decreased productivity and happiness. Trends in depression of the past few decades mirror those of obesity, as depression is more prevalent than ever. Likewise, depression places a heavy burden on the healthcare infrastructure. Many different researchers have sought a link between these two chronic diseases, and it is the goal of this paper to review this evidence. Investigators have framed the potential relationship in many different ways, including a sociological argument, with either obesity or depression predisposing the other, being elements in a shared inflammatory pathway, CNS pathway, HPA axis, and serotonin pathway. More studies are needed to conclude there is a definitive link between obesity and depression, but because of the massive toll both conditions take on the individual and society, it is well worth the investment. Perhaps, the success of obesity treatments that address depression, diminished self-worth and self-esteem provide some promise, and they also provide a new avenue to study this relationship. In identifying the comprehensive approaches to obesity that are most effective, researchers may be able to work backwards, identifying all the elements being touch upon by the treatment.
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