Psychiatric disorder-weight associations and the moderating effect of sex in an outpatient psychiatric sample

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Few studies have examined the association between weight and psychiatric disorders in psychiatric treatment samples, and no known studies in treatment samples have examined potential moderators of the psychiatric illness-weight relationship. The aim of the present study is to examine if weight is associated with specific mood and anxiety disorders in a psychiatric treatment-seeking sample, and if a person's sex moderate any of these associations. Greater knowledge of particular subgroups experiencing psychiatric illness-obesity comorbidity could aid in better providing personalized treatment.


Participants (N = 3,585) were administered a semi-structured diagnostic interview at initial presentation for treatment. Hierarchical logistic regression analyses examined simple effects of body mass index (BMI) and sex on current mood and anxiety disorders and the moderating effects of sex.


We did not find simple effects between BMI and mood/anxiety disorders after controlling for demographic variables. Female sex moderated a relationship between BMI and social anxiety disorder (SAD) only.


Findings suggest that the presence of SAD in psychiatric patients is associated with a higher BMI only for females, yet this was not the case for the presence of other mood and anxiety disorders. Further research examining the relationship between SAD, weight, and sex is warranted.

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