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Severe obesity increases the prevalence but not the incidence of depressive symptoms in the elderly-population-based cohort in Southern Brazil

  • Vanessa Fernanda Goes (a1), Elisabeth Wazlawik (a1), Eleonora D'Orsi (a2) and David Alejandro González-Chica (a3)
ABSTRACT Background:

The relation between body weight status and depressive symptoms in the elderly differs according to age and country of origin. The goal of this study was to analyze the cross-sectional and longitudinal relationship between body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC) and depressive symptoms in the elderly.


A population-based cohort study of 1,702 elderly individuals (70.6+8.0 years) in Southern Brazil evaluated in 2009/10 and 2013/14 was accessed. The body weight status was assessed using measured data of BMI and WC. The Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS-15) was used to determine depressive symptoms. Logistic regression analysis adjusted for sociodemographic and behavioral variables was performed.


The prevalence of depressive symptoms in 2009/10 was 23.3% (95% CI 20.3–26.6) and the cumulative incidence in the 4-years period was 10.9% (95% CI 8.7–13.6). Elderly people with obesity class II–III and WC in the highest quartile had higher prevalence odds ratio of being depressed than individuals with normal weight or WC in the lower quartile (OR 2.34; 95% CI 1.42–3.87 and OR 1.73; 95% CI 1.13–2.65, respectively). Meanwhile, intermediary values of BMI and WC were associated with a lower prevalence. When evaluating the incidence of depressive symptoms, overweight individuals and those in the second quartile of WC had a lower risk (58% and 57%, respectively), but severely obese individuals had the same risk compared to those with normal BMI/WC.


Severely obese individuals presented a similar incidence of depressive symptoms compared to those with normal BMI/WC, but higher prevalence. Intermediary values of body weight status decrease the risk of depressive symptoms.

Corresponding author
Correspondence should be addressed to: D. A. González-Chica, PhD, Discipline of General Practice, School of Medicine, The University of Adelaide, 178 North Terrace, Level 11, MDP DX 650 550, South Australia, Adelaide 5005, Australia. Phone: +61 8 8313 1631. Email:
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International Psychogeriatrics
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