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Abstract Background: The association between obesity and depression may partly depend on the contextual metabolic health. The effect of change in metabolic health status over time on subsequent depression risk remains unclear. We aimed to assess the prospective association between metabolic health and its change over time and the risk of depression across BMI categories. Methods: Based on a nationally representative cohort, we included participants enrolled at the wave 2 (2004-2005) of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing and with follow-up for depression at wave 8 (2016-2017). Participants were cross-classified by BMI categories and metabolic health (defined by the absence of hypertension, diabetes, and hypercholesterolemia) at baseline or its change over time (during waves 3-6). Logistic regression model was used to calculated odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for the risk of depression at follow-up stratified by BMI category and metabolic health status with adjustment for potential confounders. Results: The risk of depression was increased for participants with metabolically healthy obesity compared with healthy non-obese participants, and the risk was highest for those with metabolically unhealthy obesity (OR 1.62, 95% CI 1.18-2.20). Particularly hypertension and diabetes contribute most to the increased risk. The majority of metabolically healthy participants converted to unhealthy metabolic phenotype (50.1% of those with obesity over 8 years), which was associated with increased risk of depression. Participants who maintained metabolically healthy obesity was still at higher risk (1.99, 1.33-2.72), with the highest risk observed for those with stable unhealthy metabolic phenotype. Conclusions: Obesity remains a risk factor for depression, independent of whether other metabolic risk factors are present or participants convert to unhealthy metabolic phenotype over time. Long-term maintenance of metabolic health and healthy body weight may be beneficial for population mental well-being.


Journal article


European Psychiatry


Cambridge University Press (CUP)

Publication Date