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Lower levels of physical activity in childhood associated with adult depression

The University of Melbourne, Department of Clinical and Biomedical Sciences: Barwon Health Victoria, Australia.
Journal of science and medicine in sport / Sports Medicine Australia 12/2010; 14(3):222-6. DOI: 10.1016/j.jsams.2010.10.458
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Emerging evidence indicates that early life exposures influence adult health outcomes and there is cause to hypothesise a role for physical activity (PA) in childhood as a protective factor in adult depression. This study aimed to investigate the association between self-reported levels of PA in childhood and self-reported depressive illness. Lifetime depression and levels of physical activity (low/high) in childhood (<15 yr) were ascertained by self-report in 2152 adults (20-97 yr) participating in an ongoing epidemiological study in south-eastern Australia. Data were collected between 2000 and 2006. In this sample, 141 women (18.9%) and 169 men (12.0%) reported ever having a depressive episode. Low PA in childhood was associated with an increased risk of reporting depression in adulthood (OR=1.70, 95%CI=1.32-2.17, p<0.001). Adjustment for age, gender and adult PA attenuated the relationship somewhat (OR=1.35, 95%CI=1.01-1.78, p=0.04), however further adjustment for SES or country of birth did not affect this relationship. In this community-based study, lower levels of self-reported PA in childhood were associated with a 35% increase in odds for self-reported depression in adulthood. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that lower levels of PA in childhood may be a risk factor for adult depression.

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    • "Physical comorbidities similarly are more common among those with obesity, as they are in those with depression (Bell et al., 2011) and, thus, inflammation associated with physical illness may underpin the link between obesity and negative affect. Physical inactivity (Jacka et al., 2011b; Pasco et al., 2011a, 2011b) and poor quality diet (Jacka et al., 2010) are key underlying lifestyle behaviours that predispose both obesity and mood. Whilst it is suggested that food intake generally enhances mood (Schulz and Laessle, 2010), awareness of excessive food intake and emotional eating may contribute to the links between obesity and psychological distress. "
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