Adiposity and psychosocial outcomes at ages 30 and 35
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To examine associations between adiposity and adult psychosocial outcomes (depressive symptoms, life satisfaction, self-esteem, household income, personal income, savings/investments) in a New Zealand birth cohort, by gender. Adiposity was assessed using Body Mass Index scores classified on a 3-point scale of BMI: <25.0, overweight (25.0–29.9) or obese (≥30).
Data were gathered via face-to-face and telephone interviews for the Christchurch Health and Development Study (CHDS), comprising a birth cohort of 1265 children born in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 1977. BMI and psychosocial outcome information was collected in 2007 (30 years; n = 977) and in 2012 (35 years; n = 923).
Population-averaged regression modeling showed evidence of statistically significant (p < 0.05) associations between increasing adiposity and adverse psychosocial outcomes for females, but not for males. After adjustment for child and family background covariates the strength of the associations for females was reduced; with four associations (depressive symptoms, life satisfaction, equivalized household income and savings/investments) remaining statistically significant (p < 0.05). In contrast, for males there was a significant (p = 0.008) positive association between adiposity and higher personal net weekly income after covariate adjustment.
The findings suggest evidence of gender differences in the associations between adiposity and psychosocial outcomes. For females, there were small but pervasive tendencies for increasing adiposity to be related to more adverse mental health, psychological well-being and economic outcomes; whereas for males adiposity was either unrelated to these outcomes, or in the case of personal income, associated with greater economic advantage. The implications of these findings are discussed.
KeywordsObesity Adiposity BMI Depression Psychosocial outcomes Gender
This research was funded by grants from the Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC 11/792), the National Child Health Research Foundation, the Canterbury Medical Research Foundation and the New Zealand Lottery Grants Board.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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