Depressive Symptoms During Adolescence Predict Adulthood Obesity Among Black Females

  • Shervin Assari
  • Cleopatra Howard Caldwell
  • Marc A. Zimmerman
Article

Abstract

Aim

This study aimed to investigate gender differences in the association between baseline depressive symptoms and subsequent changes in obesity in a sample of urban Black youth in the USA.

Methods

The current study followed 681 Black youth (335 male and 346 female) for up to 18 years from 1994 to 2012. All youth were selected from an economically disadvantaged urban area in MI, USA. The main independent variable was baseline depressive symptoms measured in 1994. The main outcome was change in body mass index (BMI) from 1999 to 2012, calculated based on self-reported height and weight. Scio-demographics (age, number of parents in the household, and parental employment) were covariates. Gender was the focal moderator. We used linear regressions to test the predictive role of baseline depressive symptoms on change in BMI (from 1999 to 2012) in the pooled sample, and also based on gender.

Results

Among Black females, but not Black males, baseline depressive symptoms predicted the BMI change from 1999 to 2012. The association remained significant for Black females after controlling for covariates.

Conclusion

High depressive symptoms at baseline better predict BMI change over the next decade for female than male Black youth. As a result, detection and reduction of depressive symptoms may be a vital element of obesity prevention programs for Black females. Policies and programs that address determinants of psychological distress as a strategy to prevent obesity among female Black youth in disadvantaged neighborhoods may be especially useful.

Keywords

Obesity Depressive symptoms Blacks Ethnic Groups Adolescents African Americans Gender 

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Copyright information

© W. Montague Cobb-NMA Health Institute 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry, School of MedicineUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Center for Research on Ethnicity, Culture and Health, School of Public HealthUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  3. 3.Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, School of Public HealthUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  4. 4.Prevention Research Center, School of Public HealthUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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