Psychosocial measures and weight change in a clinical paediatric population with obesity

  • Brooke E. HarcourtEmail author
  • Anke Pons
  • Kung-Ting Kao
  • Celia Twindyakirana
  • Erin Alexander
  • Sarah Haberle
  • Zoe McCallum
  • Matthew A. Sabin



Poor quality of life has been shown to occur in youth with obesity. This study aimed to assess associations between health-related quality of life, general mental health and general psychological distress measures, collectively termed psychosocial health questionnaires (PSH), with weight outcomes in a busy paediatric weight management service.


A cross-sectional longitudinal clinical cohort, ‘Childhood Overweight BioRepository of Australia (COBRA)’, was used (n = 250, median age 11, range 2–18 year, mean BMI z-score 2.5 ± 0.2). Clinical data were collected and HRQOL questionnaires; Pediatric Quality of Life 4.0 (PedsQL), ‘Sizing Me/Them Up’ (SMU/STU), and psychological well-being questionnaires; strengths and difficulties questionnaire (SDQ) and Kessler 10 (K10) were completed by the child and primary caregiver. PSH results were compared to age- and sex-adjusted BMI z-score at baseline and follow-up. Direct logistic regression modelling was performed to assess the impact of PSH factors on the likelihood of successful weight reduction over a period of ≥ 12 months.


Mean self-report PSH scores were: 68.0 ± 15.28 (PedsQL, range 0-100), 64.8 ± 15.8, (SMU, range 0-100), 17.3 ± 4.4 (SDQ, range 0–40) and 20.0 ± 7.7 (K10, range 0–50). A significant negative correlation was observed between PSH scores and childhood obesity (baseline BMI z-scores (p < 0.01)). No correlations were observed between psychological well-being measures and BMI z-scores. Higher subscale scores of the PedsQL and SDQ, which measure impaired psychosocial health and more difficulties with hyperactivity and inattention, significantly predict weight loss in children with obesity after 12 months.


PSH questionnaires may be useful in identifying individuals who require additional support to achieve weight loss goals in a tertiary weight management service.


Paediatric obesity Health-related quality of life Weight management 



The authors would like to thank the COBRA participants and their families. Authors from the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute are supported in part by the Victorian Government Operational Infrastructure Support Program. BEH is an NHMRC Peter Doherty ECF Fellow (Grant No. APP:1072086).


Funding for this project was received from the National Health and Medical Research Council Australia (Grant No. APP:1072086) and additionally supported by the Victorian Government Operational Infrastructure Support Program.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare in relation to this study.

Ethics approval

This study was approved by and conducted in accordance with guidelines stipulated by, The Royal Children’s Hospital Human Research Ethics Committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments (RCH HREC Ref#28081, Melbourne, Australia).

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all participants included in this study.

Supplementary material

11136_2019_2155_MOESM1_ESM.docx (31 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 30 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Obesity ResearchMurdoch Childrens Research InstituteParkvilleAustralia
  2. 2.Department of PaediatricsUniversity of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Endocrinology and DiabetesThe Royal Children’s HospitalParkvilleAustralia
  4. 4.Obesity and Hormone ResearchMurdoch Childrens Research InstituteParkvilleAustralia

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