There is a prevailing assumption that depressed people have a more difficult time dropping pounds than their non-depressed counterparts.

While it seems logical enough, a recent study shows that this is not the case. Here are the details:

The study, conducted by Evette Ludman, PhD, included 190 female Group Health patients, aged 40 to 65, with a body mass index of 30 or more, 65 with major depressive disorder, and 125 without.

The women had not been seeking treatment, but they enrolled in a one-year behavioural weight loss intervention, involving 26 group sessions.


The women had lost around the same amount of weight at 6 months (8 or 9 pounds), and 12 months (7 or 8 pounds), with no significant differences between the groups.

Dr. Ludman said:

We expected women with major depression to lose less weight, attend fewer sessions, eat more calories, and get less exercise than those without depression... We were surprised to find no significant differences between the women who had depression and those who did not have it.

What made a difference was just showing up.

Women who attended at least 12 sessions lost more weight (14 pounds at 6 months, and 11 pounds at 12 months) than those who attended fewer sessions (4 pounds at both 6 and 12 months), regardless of whether they had depression. Being depressed didn't lead them to attend fewer sessions, or lose less weight.

Take Home Points

This study really underscores the importance of accountability, and just showing up. I'm sure people who do well at Weight Watchers attend more meetings, and in my own practice I see better results in those who just attend my personal training, or boot camp sessions.

For those who suffer with depression, exercise is a key intervention for improving outcomes, while good nutrition has also been shown to improve mood.

Source: Science Daily