A recent study conducted by the Complexity Science Hub and the Medical University of Vienna reveals that obesity significantly increases the likelihood of developing mental disorders across all age groups. The study, published in the specialist journal Translational Psychiatry, highlights that women are at higher risk than men for most of these diseases. The researchers analyzed a national registry of inpatient hospitalizations in Austria from 1997 to 2014 to determine the relative risks of comorbidities associated with obesity and identify sex differences.

The study found that obesity diagnosis is often the first diagnosis made prior to the manifestation of various mental disorders, including depression, nicotine addiction, psychosis, anxiety, eating disorders, and personality disorders. The results emphasize the importance of raising awareness among healthcare professionals about psychiatric diagnoses in obese patients and the need for early consultation with specialists.

In order to identify patterns in disease occurrence, the researchers developed a new method to analyze the sequence of illnesses. Except for the psychosis spectrum, obesity was typically diagnosed before the onset of psychiatric disorders. This challenges the previous notion that psychopharmacological medications were the primary cause of the association between mental disorders and obesity or diabetes.

Gender differences were also observed, with women being at a higher risk for most disorders, except for schizophrenia and nicotine addiction. Obese women had a significantly higher rate of diagnosed depressive episodes compared to obese men, while obese men were more likely to suffer from nicotine abuse disorder.

Given the high prevalence of obesity worldwide and its association with metabolic disorders and cardiovascular complications, this study highlights the importance of recognizing obesity as a pleiotropic risk factor for various health problems. The researchers emphasize the need for thorough screening of mental health issues in obese patients, particularly in young age groups, to facilitate prevention and ensure appropriate treatment.


Source: Science Daily