Ian C. Macali1, Megan E. Holmes1, Erik Lind2. 1Mississippi State, Mississippi State, MS. 2State University of New York, Cortland, NY.

BACKGROUND: The National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) shows an increase of 11.4% in adult obesity prevalence from 1999-2017 (Akinbami et. al., 2022) and an increase in depressive disorders in adults as well (Greenberg et. al., 2021) Previous research suggests a modest relationship between obesity and depression (DEP) with recommendations for analysis of more robust covariates for more accurate inferences (Atlantis & Baker, 2008). Physical activity (PA) provides mental health benefits for depressed people, even at levels lower than that of current PA recommendations for health. (Pearce et. al., 2022). PURPOSE: This study examines the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and DEP and the potential moderation of PA on this relationship. METHODS: NHANES (2017-2018) data was used. Descriptive statistics were calculated for all variables. Multiple linear regression analysis was used to examine the relationship between BMI and DEP and to determine if PA plays a potential moderating effect on the BMI-DEP relation. Covariates included smoking status, sex, and socioeconomic status via monthly poverty index. Significance was set at p=0.05. RESULTS: 5,856 participants (51.5% female) were included in the analysis. Mean BMI was 29.72 (±7.44 kg/m²). Mean PA was 130.41 (±179.61 min/week-1) and mean family monthly poverty index was 2.79 (±1.54). Smoking status was categorized as smoker, occasional smoker and non-smoker, which represented 34.1%, 9.2%, and 56.7% of participants, respectively. Mean score on the DEP screening tool was 3.37 (±4.58). A significant model (R²=.112, F=63.4, p=< 0.0001) emerged with main effects of BMI (β=0.008, p= 0.0008), PA (β=-0.002, p= 0.0027), family monthly poverty index (β=-0.316, p= 0.0112), sex (β=1.187, p=0.0001), and smoking status (β=-0.874, p=<0.0001) contributing to the overall model. The interaction between PA and BMI was non-significant. CONCLUSION: The modest association between BMI and depression suggests BMI plays a small, but significant role in depressive symptoms. Practitioners working with individuals with obesity may find it beneficial to screen for DEP and collaborate with mental health professionals when developing intervention strategies.

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