Body mass index and psychiatric disorders: a Mendelian randomization study

Sci Rep. 2016 Sep 7;6:32730. doi: 10.1038/srep32730.


Obesity is a highly prevalent risk factor for cardiometabolic diseases. Observational studies suggest that obesity is associated with psychiatric traits, but causal inference from such studies has several limitations. We used two-sample Mendelian randomization methods (inverse variance weighting, weighted median and MR-Egger regression) to evaluate the association of body mass index (BMI) with three psychiatric traits using data from the Genetic Investigation of Anthropometric Traits and Psychiatric Genomics consortia. Causal odds ratio estimates per 1-standard deviation increment in BMI ranged from 0.88 (95% CI: 0.62; 1.25) to 1.23 (95% CI: 0.65; 2.31) for bipolar disorder; 0.93 (0.78; 1.11) to 1.41 (0.87; 2.27) for schizophrenia; and 1.15 (95% CI: 0.92; 1.44) to 1.40 (95% CI: 1.03; 1.90) for major depressive disorder. Analyses removing potentially influential SNPs suggested that the effect estimates for depression might be underestimated. Our findings do not support the notion that higher BMI increases risk of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Although the point estimates for depression were consistent in all sensitivity analyses, the overall statistical evidence was weak. However, the fact that SNP-depression associations were estimated in relatively small samples reduced power to detect causal effects. This should be re-addressed when SNP-depression associations from larger studies become available.

MeSH terms

  • Bipolar Disorder / genetics*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / genetics*
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Humans
  • Mendelian Randomization Analysis / methods*
  • Obesity / genetics
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Risk Factors
  • Schizophrenia / genetics*