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Association between body weight status and suicidal ideation among Chinese adolescents: the moderating role of the child’s sex

  • Lan Guo
  • Yan Xu
  • Guoliang Huang
  • Xue Gao
  • Xueqing Deng
  • Min Luo
  • Chuhao Xi
  • Wei-Hong Zhang
  • Ciyong LuEmail author
Original Paper

Abstract

Purpose

Suicidality (ranging from suicidal ideation to suicidal attempts and completed suicide) is a major and preventable public health concern, and body weight is considered a modifiable factor which might be helpful to the early risk assessment of suicidal ideation. This study aimed to comprehensively evaluate the association of body weight status with suicidal ideation across sex among Chinese adolescents.

Methods

Data were drawn from the 2015 National School-based Chinese Adolescents Health Survey, and 54,640 students’ questionnaires were completed and qualified for the survey. Body mass index z scores were calculated and categorized into four levels: underweight (less than the 5th percentile for sex and age), normal weight (between the 5th and 85th percentile), overweight (between the 85th and 95th percentile), and obese (above the 95th percentile).

Results

Of the total sample, 47.3% (25,852) were boys. The weighted prevalence of suicidal ideation among Chinese adolescents is 15.7% (14.6% in boys and 17.3% in girls). After adjusting for demographics, smoking, drinking, and depressive symptoms, our final multivariate logistic regression models demonstrated that only boys identified as underweight (Adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.23, 95% CI = 1.06–1.44) or obese (AOR = 1.19, 95% CI = 1.02–1.38) were at a higher risk of suicidal ideation. Additionally, the association between weight status and suicidal ideation among boys might be moderated by academic pressure, smoking, and depressive symptoms.

Conclusions

There was a significant J-shaped association between relative body weight and suicidal ideation in boys. The child’s sex should be taken into consideration when developing interventions against unhealthy weight and suicidal ideation.

Keywords

Body weight status Suicidal ideation Chinese adolescents Sex difference 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We specifically thank all of the participants in our study.

Funding

This study was supported by Guangdong Food and Drug Administration and Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong Province (Grant no. 2018A0303130331). The sponsors had no role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript; and decision to submit the manuscript for publication.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lan Guo
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yan Xu
    • 1
    • 3
  • Guoliang Huang
    • 3
  • Xue Gao
    • 3
  • Xueqing Deng
    • 1
    • 2
  • Min Luo
    • 1
    • 2
  • Chuhao Xi
    • 1
    • 2
  • Wei-Hong Zhang
    • 4
  • Ciyong Lu
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Medical Statistics and Epidemiology, School of Public HealthSun Yat-sen UniversityGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Food, Nutrition and HealthSun Yat-sen UniversityGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Center for ADR Monitoring of GuangdongGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  4. 4.Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Clinical Research Centre, School of Public HealthUniversité Libre de Bruxelles (ULB)BrusselsBelgium

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