Depressive symptom clusters are differentially associated with general and visceral obesity

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2011 Jan;59(1):67-72. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2010.03228.x.


Objectives: To examine the relationship between obesity and depressive symptoms taking into account different measures for obesity (body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC), and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR)) and different depressive symptom clusters.

Design: Cross-sectional population-based survey.

Setting: Baseline data of the Nijmegen Biomedical Study.

Participants: One thousand two hundred eighty-four persons aged 50 to 70.

Measurements: Obesity (BMI, WC, and WHR) and depressive symptoms were measured, the latter using the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). Principal components analysis of the BDI items yielded two factors, one representing a cognitive-affective symptom cluster and the other a somatic-affective symptom cluster. Multiple regression analyses corrected for confounders were conducted for each measure of obesity, with separate models testing the BDI sum score and the depression symptom clusters.

Results: BMI was significantly associated with BDI sum score (β=0.12, P<.001) and the cognitive- (β=0.08, P=.008) and somatic-affective symptom clusters (β=0.10, P=.001). WC (β=0.11, P<.001) and WHR (β=0.07, P=.004) were specifically associated with the somatic-affective symptom cluster.

Conclusion: Visceral obesity, which is more indicative of vascular risk than BMI, is specifically associated with somatic-affective depressive symptom cluster, which might suggest that these symptoms are primarily due to a (subclinical) somatic condition.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology
  • Comorbidity
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder / physiopathology
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Obesity, Abdominal / epidemiology*
  • Obesity, Abdominal / physiopathology
  • Obesity, Abdominal / psychology
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Waist Circumference
  • Waist-Hip Ratio