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January 19, 1963

Obesity as a Depressive Equivalent

Author Affiliations

San Francisco
Commander, 6044th USAF Dispensary, APO 76, San Francisco.

JAMA. 1963;183(3):208-210. doi:10.1001/jama.1963.63700030022020a

THE CURRENT United States Air Force Weight Control Program affords an opportunity to study some specific points concerning obesity. The hypothesis is advanced that obesity is a depressive equivalent, that is, it is believed that certain individuals ward off and allay depressive feelings by increasing the amount and frequency of their food consumption. The purpose of this paper is to report a test of this hypothesis by standard statistical methods and to discuss the relevant psychologic and management problems of the obese.

Since obesity is thought to be the direct result of overeating to assuage depression, it was anticipated that one would find the incidence of overt depression to be considerably lower in people utilizing this mechanism, namely, in overweight persons. Overweight is defined from the standard scaled age-weight tables of the United States Air Force (AFM 160-1). Twenty-seven overweight officers and airmen and 50 randomly selected nonobese personnel without

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