BACKGROUND: Adolescence may be a crucial period for developing obesity and associated mental health problems. This study examined the relationship of weight status on body image, eating behavior, and depressive symptoms in youth. METHODS: A survey was conducted on 1490 youth attending grades 7-12. Participants completed questionnaires on body image, eating behavior, and mood and were measured for height and weight to calculate body mass index (BMI). Weight classification was based on the International Obesity Task Force guidelines, whereby youth at or above the 95th BMI percentile for age and sex were classified as obese, those between 85th and 94th BMI percentile as overweight, and those between 5th and 84th BMI percentile as normal weight. Several multivariate analyses of variance (MANOVAs) were conducted to examine these relationships. RESULTS: Clear relationships emerged between body image and weight classification. Obese youth reported higher body dissatisfaction than overweight youth, who reported more body dissatisfaction than normal weight youth. These effects were independent of age and gender. A relationship was also found for dietary restraint and weight status whereby higher restraint scores were associated with greater adiposity. Similarly, obese youth reported greater depressive symptoms, including anhedonia, negative self-esteem, and higher overall depression scores compared with overweight and normal-weight youth. CONCLUSIONS: Psychopathology in obese youth is well known in clinical samples but this study suggests that obese youth in the community may be at increased risk of developing body dissatisfaction, dietary restraint, and depressive symptoms compared with overweight or normal weight youth.

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Journal of School Health
Department of Psychology

Goldfield, G.S. (Gary S.), Moore, C. (Ceri), Henderson, K, Buchholz, A. (Annick), Obeid, N. (Nicole), & Flament, M.F. (Martine F.). (2010). Body dissatisfaction, dietary restraint, depression, and weight status in adolescents. Journal of School Health, 80(4), 186–192. doi:10.1111/j.1746-1561.2009.00485.x