Different mechanisms underlie post-menarchial increase in depression and weight

Eveline J. Wouters*, Junilla K. Larsen, Judith S. Dubas, Rinie Geenen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Depression and being overweight are correlated health problems in adulthood. Adolescence is a significant period for the onset and increase of depression and obesity, especially among girls. Pubertal development also occurs with concomitant increases in weight. Thus, it is not yet clear whether the association between depression and being overweight can be explained by pubertal development. Purpose: We examined the association between depressive mood, body weight, and pubertal status in adolescent girls. Method: The design was cross-sectional. In 962 young adolescent Dutch girls (age range, 11.9-15.9) weight and height measurements were used to calculate height, age, and gender-standardized body weight (zBMI). Questionnaires assessed depressive mood (the Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression, CES-D, inventory) and menarcheal status (pre or post). Results: The correlation between menarcheal status and body weight (r=0.34, p<0.001) was not affected by depressive mood, and the correlation between menarcheal status and depressive mood (r=0.20, p<0.001) was not affected by body weight. A small correlation between depressive mood and body weight (r=0.12, p<0.01) largely disappeared after controlling for menarche. Conclusion: Menarcheal status largely explains the association between weight and depression. It is independently associated with both BMI and depression, suggesting that different mechanisms underlie the post-menarcheal increased prevalence of depression and overweight.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)254-259
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2011


  • Adolescence
  • Body mass index
  • Body weight
  • Depression
  • Menarche


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