I had been a very strong guy with no belly fat at all,” he said.
To his surprise, he realized he had lost weight and was no longer depressed about his weight. He says, “After a few months I was ready to go to work.”
In a 2014 study, a meta-analysis of 14 studies involving 6,752 participants also showed no significant link between having a low BMI and depressive symptoms.
Another study, that included more than 10,000 young adults conducted by Australian researchers concluded that overweight adults were “generally, and significantly, less likely to report depressive symptoms” than were their normal BMI counterparts.
But in that study, people were only considered to be depressed if they considered themselves to be that way. And some individuals found that out when, instead of being the most overweight group of young adults, they were considered the most depressed — which is to suggest that their depression was due to some factors outside of their control.
Still another meta-analysis found no link between the BMI and depression among adults over 60.
Studies have also found that people who have low body fat levels and high body mass index were also more likely to be obese and have higher levels of stress, poor sleep and higher cholesterol levels than those with normal BMI.
But the fact that all these studies used different criteria that might be hard to compare, especially when studies were done in different countries, makes it difficult to draw a conclusion on what, if anything, is causing the higher risk of depression.
While some experts have also warned that it is important to stay fit to avoid obesity and health problems, the current research seems to suggest that the most important thing to do is to be physically active.
“We don’t think that exercise lowers the risk of depression,” says Dr. Gorman. “What we think is that exercise lowers the risk of some diseases, including cancer and cardiovascular diseases.”
Dr. Gorman has been working with an American Heart Association-led exercise rehabilitation program to encourage people to stay active, and he argues that this program can do little to increase a person’s risk of depression.
As he notes, “We need to consider if these programs are even needed, because it would be very challenging with the vast array [of] other reasons for depression out there.”
Other experts, such as Dr. John Beresford, a psychology researcher and professor of psychiatry at the NYU Langone Medical Center, argue that exercise is key to helping people
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