-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, March 15 (HealthDay News) -- Teens who were depressed as
children are more likely to be obese, to smoke and to be sedentary,
a new study finds.
The findings suggest that depression during childhood can
increase the risk of heart problems later in life, according to the
The study included more than 500 children who were followed from
ages 9 to 16. There were three groups: those diagnosed with
depression as children, their depression-free siblings and a
control group of unrelated youngsters with no history of
Twenty-two percent of the kids who were depressed at age 9 were
obese at age 16, the study found. "Only 17 percent of their
siblings were obese, and the obesity rate was 11 percent in the
unrelated children who never had been depressed," study first
author Robert Carney, a professor of psychiatry at Washington
University School of Medicine in St. Louis, said in a university
The researchers found similar patterns when they looked at
smoking and physical activity.
"A third of those who were depressed as children had become daily smokers, compared to 13 percent of their nondepressed siblings and only 2.5 percent of the control group," Carney said.
Teens who had been depressed as children were the least
physically active, their siblings were a bit more active and those
in the control group were the most active, according to the study,
which is scheduled for presentation Friday at the annual meeting of
the American Psychosomatic Society in Miami. Although the study
showed an association between childhood depression and obesity,
smoking habits and inactivity later in life, it did not prove a
These findings are cause for concern because "a number of recent
studies have shown that when adolescents have these cardiac risk
factors, they're much more likely to develop heart disease as
adults and even to have a shorter lifespan," Carney said.
"Active smokers as adolescents are twice as likely to die by the age of 55 than nonsmokers, and we see similar risks with obesity, so finding this link between childhood depression and these risk factors suggests that we need to very closely monitor young people who have been depressed," he said.
Data and conclusions presented at meetings are typically
considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about
depression in children and teens.
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