Depressive symptoms and poorer performance on the Stroop Task are associated with weight gain (2018)

Physiol Behav. 2018 Jan 8. pii: S0031-9384(18)30011-8. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2018.01.005.

Stinson EJ1, Krakoff J1, Gluck ME2.



Executive function impairments and depression are associated with obesity but whether they predict weight gain is unclear.


Forty-six individuals (35m, 37±10y) completed the Stroop Task, Iowa Gambling Task (IGT), Wisconsin Card Sorting Task (WCST), Inventory for Depressive Symptomatology (IDS-SR), Physical Anhedonia Scale (PAS), and Perceived Stress Scale (PSS). Body composition (DXA) and fasting glucose were also measured. Data from return visits were used to assess changes in weight.


Poorer Stroop and WCST performance associated with higher BMI whereas poorer IGT and WCST performance associated with higher body fat (%; all p’s≤0.05). Stroop interference (p=0.04; p=0.05) and IDS-SR (p=0.06; p=0.02) associated with increased BMI and weight gain (%/yr). In a multivariate linear model Stroop interference (β=0.40, p<0.01; β=0.35, p<0.01) and IDS-SR (β=0.38, p<0.01; β=0.37, p<0.01) independently predicted increased BMI and weight gain (%/yr) even after controlling for baseline weight and glucose levels.


Poorer response inhibition and depressive symptoms, but not glucose levels, predicted weight gain. Evaluating neurocognitive and mood deficits could improve current treatment strategies for weight loss. Clinical Trial Registration Numbers NCT00523627, NCT00342732, NCT01224704.

KEYWORDS: Cognitive function; Depression; Mood disorders; Obesity; Psychopathology

PMID: 29326031

DOI: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2018.01.005