Few large studies have examined correlations between anxiety and body mass index (BMI) by gender or racial groups using clinical data.


This study aimed to determine associations between diagnosed anxiety disorders and BMI, and evaluate whether observed associations varied by demographic characteristics.


Data from the Rochester Epidemiology Project (REP) data linkage system were analyzed to examine associations between anxiety disorders and BMI among adults ages 18-85 residing in Olmsted County, MN in 2009 (n=103,557). Height and weight data were available for 75,958 people (73%). The international classification of underweight, overweight, and obesity by BMI was used.


Population consisted of 56% females, 92.8% White individuals, with median age of 46 years. When adjusted for age, sex, and race, we observed a U-shaped association between anxiety and BMI group. Underweight and obese individuals were more likely to have an anxiety diagnosis compared to normal weight individuals. Stratification by sex yielded a U-shaped association between anxiety and BMI only in women. Stratification by race showed a U-shaped association between anxiety and BMI only in the White population. Anxiety was significantly associated only with obesity in the Black population. Anxiety was not associated with a BMI category in Asian or Hispanic groups. Among elderly group, there is inverse correlation between anxiety and obesity.


Our results suggest that anxiety may have heterogeneous associations with BMI in the population. Further research on potential mechanisms contributing to these findings will help direct efforts in anxiety and obesity management across diverse population groups.

Keywords: Anxiety, Body mass index, Correlation, Gender, Population based, Race.
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