A recent study by the Complexity Science Hub and the Medical University of Vienna revealed that obesity significantly increases the chances of developing mental disorders among all age groups, with a higher risk for women.
Elma Dervic of the Complexity Science Hub stated that the hub analyzed inpatient hospitalizations in Austria from 1997 to 2014 to assess the relative risks of multiple chronic conditions for obesity.
The assessment revealed that an obesity diagnosis significantly increases the probability of various mental disorders, including depression, nicotine addiction, psychosis, anxiety, eating, and personality disorders.
In this context, Alexander Kautzky of the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy of the Medical University Vienna explained that doctors frequently assumed that psychopharmacological drugs were to blame for the link between mental illnesses, obesity, and diabetes, noting that findings suggest otherwise for depression or other psychiatric disorders.
Yet, it is not clear whether obesity directly affects mental health or whether early psychiatric illnesses are not appropriately recognized.
Research also showed significant gender differences, with women being more at risk for all disorders except for schizophrenia and nicotine addiction, revealing that the rate of diagnosed depressive episodes was almost three times higher in obese women. (13.3% obese; 4.8% non-obese).
Obesity affects over 670 million individuals worldwide and is a prevalent illness.
As highlighted by the study of the Complexity Science Hub, obesity frequently precedes severe mental disorders, with younger age groups being at greater risk.
For this reason, researchers suggest that to facilitate prevention and ensure the administration of appropriate treatment, comprehensive screening for mental health disorders in obese patients is highly recommended.