FoodFacts.com read with interest today some new research findings linking a gene that’s considered a genetic component for the risk of obesity to a reduced risk of depression. We remember hearing terms like “fat but happy,” “jolly and fat,” and other terms used years ago that wouldn’t be considered very politically correct these days. And in the last few years, we’ve followed research that linked obesity to depression. This new study, however, might reinforce those older clichés regarding obesity.
Coming out of McMaster University, this study associates the same gene that can put a person at risk for obesity with a reduction in the risk of depression. According to these findings the obesity gene is also a gene that supports happiness.
The most interesting component of this research is that it was actually begun on the premise that obesity and depression stem from brain activity and the researchers were looking for a genetic link between the two conditions. There has been a common scientific assumption regarding this link. Specifically, it has been believed that obese people can suffer from depression due to their appearance which can lead to social discrimination. Alternatively, depressed people tend to lead less active lifestyles which can cause them to change their eating habits and cause them to become obese.
This new study investigated the genetic and psychiatric condition of patients involved in the EpiDREAM study which was led by the Population Health Research Institute. It analyzed 17,200 DNA samples from participants in 21 different countries. They discovered that the existence of the predisposing variant in the obesity gene was associated with an 8% rediction in the risk of depression among participants. This was then confirmed against results from three other international studies. Those studies are supporting these latest findings. Overall, there is a definite indication that the obesity gene can provide some protection from depression.
FoodFacts.com is looking forward to future studies that explore the link between the obesity gene and a decreased risk of depression. It will be fascinating to find out how this new genetic knowledge can be used in the treatment or prevention of depression in our population. This could hold a lot of hope for so many people. We look forward to keeping you informed!