Objective: Previous research has addressed the relationship between BMI and chronic disease in primary care; however, little has been done with regard to the association between obesity and depression in primary care. The purpose of this paper is to assess the relationship between obesity and chronic conditions including depression.
Research Methods and Procedures: Data from primary care patients seen at a university-based family medicine clinic in the southeastern United States were extracted for the time between January 1, 1999 and January 1, 2002. Data extracted included most recent height and weight, age, ethnicity, pregnancy status, number of office visits, blood pressure, cholesterol, hemoglobin A1C, current diagnoses, and medications.
Results: A total of 8197 patients were included in the analysis. Sixty-nine percent of patients seen in a 3-year period were either overweight or obese. Comparing blood pressure, cholesterol, diagnoses, and medications between BMI groups found differences in virtually all categories. Diagnoses of high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, and depression significantly increased for obese patients.
Discussion: Obese patients are over-represented in primary care, and this over-representation of obesity correlates with several diagnoses, including depression. Depression is a chronic disease that may interfere with health-related behaviors and must be addressed within the health care system.