A Longitudinal Study of Childhood Depression and Anxiety in Relation to Weight Gain
Adult mood disturbances are highly correlated with obesity, although little is known about the developmental relationship between mood disorders and weight. This study investigated the relationship between childhood psychopathology and weight over the course of 3 years. Body Mass Index (BMI) percentiles and demographic data of children (ages 8–18) with depression (n = 143) or anxiety (n = 43) were compared to healthy controls (n = 99). Both childhood depression (χ 2 = 4.6, p = 0.03) and anxiety (χ 2 = 6.0, p = 0.01) were associated with increased BMI percentiles. Compared to controls, BMI percentiles of depressed females over the course of the study differed profoundly (χ 2 = 7.0, p = 0.01) and BMI percentiles of anxious females approached significance (χ 2 = 3.7, p = 0.06). Males with anxiety showed a greater trend towards overweight (χ 2 = 3.3, p = 0.07) in comparison to controls. The major finding that depression and anxiety are associated with increased BMI percentiles in a non-obese sample suggests that childhood psychopathology is an important factor that should be carefully monitored.
KeywordsWeight Depression Anxiety Adolescent Body mass index
The author would like to acknowledge the dedicated assistance of Stefanie Weiss, Psychology Research Fellow, University of Michigan, and Megan Barna, Guided Research Assistant, University of Pittsburgh. This research was supported by grant P01-MH41712 (Dr. Ryan) from the National Institute of Mental Health.
- 1.Institute of Medicine (2004) Preventing childhood obesity. National Academy of Science, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
- 2.Center for Disease Control (2003) Prevalence of overweight and obesity among adults. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, HyattsvilleGoogle Scholar
- 5.Faith MS, Allison DB, Geliebter A (1997) Emotional eating and obesity: theoretical considerations and practical recommendations. In: Dalton S (ed) Obesity and weight control: the health professional’s guide to understanding and practice. Aspen, Gaithersburg, pp 439–465Google Scholar
- 23.American Psychiatric Association (1987) Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, 3rd edition revised (DSM-III-R). American Psychiatric Association, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
- 24.American Psychiatric Association (1994) Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, 4th edition (DSM-IV). American Psychiatric Association, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
- 25.Birmaher B, Dahl RE, Williamson DE, Perel JM, Brent DA, Axelson DA, Kaufman J, Dorn LD, Stull S, Rao U, Ryan ND (2000) Growth hormone secretion in children and adolescents at high risk for major depressive disorder. Arch Gen Psychiatry 57:867–872. doi: 10.1001/archpsyc.57.9.867 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 26.Hollingshead AF (1975) Four factor index of social status. Yale University, New HavenGoogle Scholar
- 28.Chambers WJ, Puig-Antich J, Hirsch M, Paez P, Ambrosini PJ, Tabrizi MA, Davies M (1985) The assessment of affective disorders in children and adolescents by semistructured interview: test-retest reliability of the schedule for affective disorders and schizophrenia for school-age children, present episode version. Arch Gen Psychiatry 42:696–702PubMedGoogle Scholar
- 33.Dishman RK, Hales DP, Pfeiffer KA, Felton GA, Saunders R, Ward DS, Dowda M, Pate RR (2006) Physical self-concept and self-esteem mediate cross-sectional relations of physical activity and sport participation with depression symptoms among adolescent girls. Health Psychol 25:396–407. doi: 10.1037/0278-618.104.22.1686 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar