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BACKGROUND: Both obesity and lean mass have been correlated with symptoms of depression. OBJECTIVE: To investigate the contribution of genetic and environmental factors in the co-occurrence of obesity and lean mass with symptoms of depression. METHODS: Individuals were 2383 participants of the Erasmus Rucphen Family study. Symptoms of depression were assessed using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. Anthropometric and dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry total body scans were obtained for the assessment of body composition. The role of shared genetic and shared environmental factors was quantified by estimating genetic and environmental correlations between symptoms of depression and measures of body composition. RESULTS: Phenotypic correlations between body composition and symptoms of depression ranged from -0.08 to 0.08. Heritability estimates for body composition ranged from 0.40 to 0.46 (P<0.001) in women and from 0.35 to 0.51 (P<0.001) in men, and heritability estimates for depression scores were higher in women (0.34 and 0.37) than in men (0.13 and 0.21). No consistent genetic correlations between measures of body composition and symptoms of depression were found. We did find a significant consistent environmental correlation between depression scores and lean mass index (environmental correlation=-0.23 for Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale and -0.31 for Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale). CONCLUSION: In our study, there is no evidence that the co-occurrence of symptoms of depression and body composition result from a common genetic pathway.

Original publication




Journal article


Psychiatr Genet

Publication Date





32 - 38


Adolescent, Adult, Antidepressive Agents, Body Composition, Depression, Environment, Female, Humans, Inheritance Patterns, Male, Middle Aged, Phenotype