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They also found a similar link to visceral fat gain in people with recurring depression over the years. Adjusting for antidepressant use didn't change the findings either.
Researchers didn't make adjustments for poor eating habits, but they found no link between depression and BMI or body fat percentage.
"Since such an increase in overall obesity was not clearly found, we believe a biological explanation is more likely" than poor diet, Vogelzangs said.
The researchers did find hints of a depression link with waist circumference and the back-to-belly measurement -- two other gauges of visceral fat.
That suggests depression has a specific tie with fat gained around the organs in the abdomen. The good news is visceral fat is easier to lose than subcutaneous fat, Kritchevsky said.
Dr. David Baron of Philadelphia's Temple University School of Medicine praised the study, although he wanted to know more about the participants' family history of obesity. The connection between brain and body makes sense, he said.
"Depression is a physical illness," Baron said. "Maybe we should be even more aggressive in treating depression in this age group, whether through medication or talk therapy."
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