Rush University Medical Center issued the following news release:

Depression linked with accumulation of visceral fat

Study explains association between depression and cardiovascular disease

Numerous studies have shown that depression is associated with an
increased risk of heart disease, but exactly how has never been clear.

Now, researchers at Rush University Medical Center have shown that
depression is linked with the accumulation of visceral fat, the kind of
fat packed between internal organs at the waistline, which has long been
known to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

The study is posted online and will be published in the May issue of
Psychosomatic Medicine.

“Our results suggest that central adiposity – which is commonly called
belly fat – is an important pathway by which depression contributes to
the risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes,” said Lynda Powell,
PhD, chairperson of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Rush and
the study’s principal investigator. “In our study, depressive symptoms
were clearly related to deposits of visceral fat, which is the type of
fat involved in disease.”

The study included 409 middle-aged women, about half African-American
and half Caucasian, who were participating in the Women in the South
Side Health Project (WISH) in Chicago, a longitudinal study of the
menopausal transition. Depressive symptoms were assessed using a common
screening test, and visceral fat measured with a CT scan. Although waist
size is often used as a proxy for the amount of visceral fat, it is an
inaccurate measure because it includes subcutaneous fat, or fat
deposited just beneath the skin.

The researchers found a strong correlation between depression and
visceral fat, particularly among overweight and obese women. The results
were the same even when the analysis adjusted for other variables that
might explain the accumulation of visceral fat, such as the level of
physical activity. The study found no association between depressive
symptoms and subcutaneous fat. The findings were the same for both black
and white women.

Powell speculated that depression triggers the accumulation of visceral
fat by means of certain chemical changes in the body – like the
production of cortisol and inflammatory compounds – but said that more
research is needed to pinpoint the exact mechanism.

courtesy of Ken Pope