18 February 2013
Even moderate levels of physical activity can boost the mental wellbeing of people having weight loss surgery, according to a US study.
Researchers found that adults undergoing bariatric surgery who are more physically active are less likely to have symptoms of depression, and less likely to have received medication or counselling for it, than their less active counterparts.
Depression is not uncommon in adults who are severely obese. Those with severe obesity are nearly twice as likely to have a major depressive disorder or anxiety disorder when compared to the general population.
The study, led by the University of Pittsburgh and published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, monitored 850 adults' physical activity for a week prior to them undergoing weight loss surgery.
The participants were also asked to complete surveys assessing them for mental health functioning, depressive symptoms and treatment for emotional and psychiatric problems.
Researchers found that one hour of moderate physical activity a week – just eight minutes a day – was associated with 92 per cent lower odds of treatment for depression or anxiety among adults with severe obesity.
Dr Wendy King, who led the research, said: "It could be that, in this population, important mental health benefits can be gained by simply not being sedentary."
But the researchers added that further work is needed to link physical activity to lower levels of depressive symptoms among people undergoing bariatric surgery.
A 2010 study by Imperial College London suggested there were an estimated 700,000 morbidly obese people in England, with a BMI of over 40.
Posted by Jeannette Royston
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