Depressed children more likely to become obese, smokers and sedentary
A new study led by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St.. Louis and the University of Pittsburgh, shows that depression in children lead to cardiovascular disease later in life. Also, it seems that children who suffer from depression are more likely to become sedentary, smokers and obese than their peers. First author Robert M. Carney, PhD, a professor of psychiatry at Washington University, said that what is worrying is that many studies have shown that children who suffer from depression have a greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease later in life, and even to have a lower life expectancy. He also said that active smokers in adolescence have a two times higher risk of dying before age 55 than non-smokers and that applies to similar risks for obesity.
Discovering these risks points out the importance of monitoring young people who have suffered from depression. It has long been known that depression is associated with increased cardiovascular risk, but what has not been known is at what stage in life the effects of depression will become evident.
To develop the study, researchers looked at 201 children suffering from depression and 195 children without depression, with a mean age of 9 years. The researchers also took into account a third group of children (161), of unrelated age, gender and without depression. They were followed for 7 years and at the age of 16 years, they were evaluated to detect the rate of smoking, obesity and physical activity. It was found that of the children who were depressed at the age of 9 years, 22% of them were obese at age 16.
In non-depressed group, the rate of obesity was 17% and the rate of obesity in the control group was 11%. Also, a third of the depressed children were smokers at the age of 16, while in the non-depressed group and in the control group smoking was present in only 13% and, respectively, 2.5% of patients.
Cardiovascular risk factors were common among children who were depressed, even if at the time of the second survey depression was not present in all of them. There has been a decrease in the rate of depression as only 15% of adolescents suffered from depression at the second survey. Depression “is playing an important, if not a causal, role. There may be some related genetic influences that give rise to both depression and to heart disease, or at least to these types of cardiac risk behaviors, but more study will be required before we can draw any firm conclusions about that, ” said Carney.