Does Ethnic Identification Moderate the Impact of Depression on Obesity in Young People? Results of a Systematic Scoping Review

  • Annalijn I. ConklinEmail author
  • Alexander C. T. Tam
  • Sherry X. R. Guo
  • Christopher G. Richardson
Narrative Review


Adolescent depression can increase obesity risk, and both health outcomes show strong ethnic and gender disparities. Strong ethnic identification may provide health-related psychological and social resources that could potentially moderate the impact of depression on adolescent obesity. This study reviews peer-reviewed empirical evidence on the combined effect of ethnic identification and depression on obesity in adolescents. A systematic literature search was conducted in Web of Science, Embase Ovid, PsycINFO, CINHAL, PubMed, ProQuest Dissertations (inception to July 2017) for empirical studies reporting on original research or reviews in either English or French. Data were extracted using a standardized evidence table with a priori determined headings, table and quality assessed before narrative synthesis. Fourteen of the 231 potential studies were eligible for full-text screening, however no studies met minimum inclusion criteria; thus, no data were synthesized and assessed. Excluded studies were described nonetheless: studies had small populations, were of varying duration, and reported mixed results. A large research gap exists on the role of ethnic identification as a potential moderator of the depression-obesity relationship in young people, with current work studying its role in the obesity-depression direction despite the known bi-directionality. Future obesity interventions in ethnically diverse populations would benefit from studies aimed at deciphering whether and how ethnic identification mitigates or amplifies the impact of depression on obesity in young people.


Ethnic identification Obesity risk Depression Effect modification Systematic review 



The authors wish to acknowledge the constructive feedback provided by anonymous reviewers to help improve this manuscript.

Authors’ Contributions

AIC and CGR conceived the study. AIC designed the study, informed study execution, interpreted data, and led drafting of the manuscript. ACTT and SXRG conducted the search, extracted the data, and supported interpretation and writing of the manuscript. AIC, CGR, SXRG and ACTT revised the drafted paper critically for important intellectual content. All authors gave final approval of the version to be published.


There was no specific funding for this study.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors report no conflict of interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Annalijn I. Conklin
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Alexander C. T. Tam
    • 3
  • Sherry X. R. Guo
    • 4
  • Christopher G. Richardson
    • 2
    • 5
  1. 1.Collaboration for Outcomes Research and Evaluation (CORE), 2405 Wesbrook Mall, Room 4623, Faculty of Pharmaceutical SciencesUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences (CHÉOS), Providence Healthcare Research InstituteSt. Paul’s HospitalVancouverCanada
  3. 3.Department of Psychology, Faculty of ArtsUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  4. 4.Behavioural Neuroscience Program, Department of Psychology, Faculty of ArtsUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  5. 5.School of Population and Public Health, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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