Objectives: This study sought to test the relationships between relative body weight and clinical depression, suicide ideation, and suicide attempts in an adult US general population sample.
Methods: Respondents were 40,086 African American and White participants interviewed in a national survey. Outcome measures were past-year major depression, suicide ideation, and suicide attempts diagnosed according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition. The primary predictor was relative body weight, treated both continuously (i.e., body mass index [BMI]) and categorically in logistic regression analyses. Covariates included age, income and education, disease status, and drug and alcohol use.
Results: Relative body weight was associated with major depression, suicide attempts, and suicide ideation, although relationships were different for men and women. Among women, increased BMI was associated with both major depression and suicide ideation. Among men, lower BMI was associated with major depression, suicide attempts, and suicide ideation. There were no racial differences.
Conclusions: Differences in BMI, or weight status, were associated with the probability of past-year major depression, suicide attempts, and suicide ideation. Longitudinal studies are needed to differentiate the causal pathways and mechanisms linking physical and psychiatric conditions.