Rethinking obesity and depression
The researchers corroborated their findings with three other large international studies. It found that the presence of FTO led to an 8% reduction in the risk of depression. 17,200 DNA samples from 21 different countries were examined. The teams at McMaster propose that these new findings could re-conceptualise the nexus between depression and anxiety. Their findings are published in the Journal of Molecular Psychiatry.
It was previously believed that depression and obesity were deeply interlinked, as they share a range of similar symptoms such as lack of exercise, poor diet and low self-esteem. This study wanted to focus on genetics and brain activity and see the potential link between both on a genetic level.
The Atlantic points out that one problem of thinking about depression and obesity is the automatic assumption that being fat is depressing. The fixation on specific body form in the west assumes that being abnormally overweight means being unhappy and dissatisfied. Although there also exists the opposing cliché of the “jolly fat man”.
Their results shed new light on genes being correlated to depression. In a nutshell these new findings have potentially unearthed, to put it a little crudely, “a fat but happy gene”*.
References and further reading