Grief, bereavement and/or depression are periods of distress for most people during which the normal restraints required for fat control become regarded as less important in the same way as they are in periods of chronic stress (above). Again, these are times during which physical activity can be expected to decrease and eating, particularly of ‘comfort foods’, increase. Depending on the circumstances, these periods can last for anything from days to several years. Additional stressors on top of the initial bereavement might then add to the problem.
Predicting those who may gain or lose fat as a result of depression is not a simple task. In a study carried out by the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) it was found that younger men (less than 55 years of age) who were depressed seemed to put on more weight over time than those who were not. This was particularly so if education levels were low. In contrast, depressed young women seemed to put on less weight than their non-depressed counterparts. But again, education levels seemed to play a part with the more highly educated putting on less weight with depression than those with lesser education. In these instances, psychological counselling to deal with grief and depression should be the primary process of any intervention rather than initiatives dealing with obesity per se.