Extra layers of fat are not usually welcome but the research carried
out by Canadian researchers prompts us to think otherwise.
Obesity appears to be a bad word these days, not just from the
aesthetic angle but from the point of view of its link to depression, mood
disorders, social isolation and job discrimination. Obese people are likely to
become depressed due to their appearance and low self-esteem. They are also
less likely to follow healthy eating or lifestyle habits. In addition,
consuming antidepressants leads to further weight gain.
However, a recent study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry
has upheld the fat-but-happy theory and has
helped to highlight the relationship between emotional well -being and being
In their search for the genes
causing depression, David Meyre, associate
professor in clinical epidemiology and biostatistics at the Michael G. DeGroote
School of Medicine at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, who is an author
of the study, and his colleagues, claim to have discovered that the obesity gene may actually be linked
with a person's happiness irrespective of its role in causing obesity. The
FTO gene, which is believed to cause weight gain by increasing calorie
consumption is now found to be capable of reducing the risk for depression by
8% if one copy of the gene is inherited, and 16% if two copies of the gene are
inherited. The function of the gene has also been found to be dependent on the
ethnicity of the person.
This small effect may not make
a big difference in the daily care meted out to the patient but it has helped
to better understand the role of the FTO gene.
The protective effect of FTO
gene has been confirmed with four different studies. FTO gene mutations were
analysed through standard screening in
6,591 people who suffered depression and in more than 21,000 who did not have
present study challenges conventional
belief which supports the theory that obesity increases depression. According
to Meyre, both obesity and depression are linked to brain activity and both
these factors may be mutually benefiting.. The FTO gene is now believed to have
a broader role in depression and other psychiatric disorders. The results of
the study confirm the idea that the FTO is active in the brain, but more
analyses are needed to support the link between FTO and depressive disorders,
The researchers now plan to
study the 59 other known genes linked to obesity and to use the same method to
see its association with conditions like Type 2 diabetes.