Childhood obesity linked to emotional issues

August 22, 2013, Monash University
Childhood obesity linked to emotional issues
Boys suffering from obesity are at higher risk of developing relationship problems. Credit: monkeybusinessimages

Schoolchildren suffering from obesity are at higher risk of developing psychological problems than their slimmer counterparts, according to new research.

The Monash University-led collaborative study of over 2000 Taiwanese schoolchildren aged 6–13 years, examined whether (ED) such as inappropriate behaviour, , depression, or an inability to learn, was associated with obesity.

Using the Scale for Assessing Emotional Disturbance (SAED), researchers from Monash University, the National Health Research Institutes, Taiwan, the China Medical University, Taiwan and the National Defense Medical Centre, Taiwan, investigated whether ED was associated with obesity by gender. SAED is a rating scale designed to assist identifying students who may be experiencing emotional and/or at school.

Co-author, Emeritus Professor Mark Wahlqvist from Monash University's Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine and the Monash Asia Institute, said the of on physical health are well-recognised as are, increasingly, its associations with psychosocial and .

"Childhood obesity has been associated with psychological problems, but little is known about its association with ED in the educational setting, especially by gender," Professor Wahlqvist said.

"Knowledge of how emotional disturbance and obesity might be linked is currently limited, especially in Asia where is on the rise; and where societal and parental focus is often intense in regard to schooling; frequently with gender favouritism."

The research found boys (16.5 per cent) were significantly more likely to be obese than girls (11.7 per cent), however, while ED becomes more prevalent as children move up through the grades, remains fairly constant.

The research found the occurrence of relationship problems was higher among obese (23.5 per cent) than among normal weight (14.4 per cent) and overweight (14.8 per cent) children. Conversely, the prevalence of obesity was higher among children with emotional disorders such as inability to learn and unhappiness or depression (16.9 per cent), than without these issues (13.7 per cent).

"In boys we found they struggled with relationship problems and in girls it was inappropriate behaviour," Professor Wahlqvist said.

"However, obesity doesn't automatically mean young children will suffer from ED. Where obesity exists at the same time as psychological problems, prevalence of these problems increased as students progressed through the school grades."

The researchers said the findings suggest there are extensive and complex interactions between body composition and emotions during child development.

"The early identification of children at risk of developing these combinations of physical and mental health problems may enable interventions that can help to prevent progression to more serious physical and mental health problems in later life," Professor Wahlqvist said.

"The results highlight the need for further studies of child health in relation to and psychological problems."

The results of the research were recently published in Research in Developmental Disability.

Explore further: Four-fold rise in children treated for obesity-related conditions

More information: www.sciencedirect.com/science/ … ii/S0891422213002722

Related Stories

Four-fold rise in children treated for obesity-related conditions

June 12, 2013
The number of children admitted to hospital for problems related to obesity in England and Wales quadrupled between 2000 and 2009, a study has found.

Healthy eating key to girls' ability to learn

July 17, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Lower birth weight and poor childhood diet can lead to poor learning and behaviour in children, particularly girls, according to new research.

Majority of toddlers who are overweight are still too heavy several years later

August 6, 2013
Toddlers with extreme overweight are often still too heavy several years later. This is particularly true for children from families with a low socioeconomic status. They have a four times higher chance of developing chronic ...

School lunch and TV time linked with childhood obesity

August 12, 2013
The findings by the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center will be published in the September issue of Pediatrics.

The paradox of BMI and life expectancy

October 10, 2012
(Medical Xpress)—Although the medical cost to the community rises as more and more people become obese, there is little adverse association between being overweight and life expectancy, new research has confirmed.

Early behavioural problems linked to lower GCSE grades

August 22, 2013
As thousands of 16-year-olds find out their GCSE results, new research has found that three-year-olds who display hyperactivity, inattention or conduct problems are at risk of worse academic outcomes when GCSEs come around.

Recommended for you

Sugar-sweetened drinks linked to overweight and obesity in children, adults: Analysis of new studies

December 23, 2017
A new review of the latest evidence on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs)- which includes 30 new studies published between 2013 and 2015 (and none of them industry sponsored) - concludes that SSB consumption is associated with ...

As income rises, women get slimmer—but not men

December 21, 2017
(HealthDay)—A comprehensive survey on the widening American waistline finds that as paychecks get bigger, women's average weight tends to drop.

Policy and early intervention can curb obesity rates

December 18, 2017
More information and emphasis on dietary lifestyle changes that prevent obesity, and its comorbidities, have not reduced the rise in obesity in U.S. adults and adolescents, according to a recent study in the New England Journal ...

Warning labels can help reduce soda consumption and obesity, new study suggests

December 15, 2017
Labels that warn people about the risks of drinking soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages can lower obesity and overweight prevalence, suggests a new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study.

Parents modeling healthy behaviors leads to markedly better outcomes for children

December 13, 2017
When trying to help children lose weight, involving a parent in the treatment makes the entire family healthier, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have shown.

'Obesity paradox' not found when measuring new cases of cardiovascular disease

December 7, 2017
Although obesity is a well-known risk factor for getting cardiovascular disease, a controversial body of research suggests that obesity may actually be associated with improved survival among people who have cardiovascular ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.