Associations Between Obesity and Comorbid Mental Health, Developmental, and Physical Health Conditions in a Nationally Representative Sample of US Children Aged 10 to 17

Department of Health Services, School of Public Health, UCLA, Los Angeles, Calif
Academic pediatrics (Impact Factor: 2.01). 11/2012; 13(1). DOI: 10.1016/j.acap.2012.10.007
Source: PubMed


This large population-based study of US children considered the association of obesity with a broad range of comorbidities. This study examined relationships between weight status and health for US children.

We performed cross-sectional analysis of data on 43,297 children aged 10 to 17 from the 2007 National Survey of Children's Health. Weight status was calculated from parent report of child height and weight. Logistic regression models assessed associations between weight status and 21 indicators of general health, psychosocial functioning, and specific health disorders, adjusting for sociodemographic factors.

Using body mass index (BMI) percentiles for age and sex, 15% of US children were considered overweight (BMI 85th to <95th percentile), and 16% were obese (BMI ≥95th percentile). Compared with children classified as not overweight, obese children were more likely to have reported good/fair/poor health (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 2.18, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.76-2.69), activity restrictions (AOR 1.39, 95% CI 1.10-1.75), internalizing problems (AOR 1.59, 95% CI 1.04-2.45), externalizing problems (AOR 1.33, 95% CI 1.07-1.65), grade repetition (AOR 1.57, 95% CI 1.24-1.99), school problems, and missed school days. Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorder, depression, learning disability, developmental delay, bone/joint/muscle problems, asthma, allergies, headaches, and ear infections were all more common in obese children.

Obese children have increased odds of worse reported general health, psychosocial functioning, and specific health disorders. Physicians, parents, and teachers should be informed of the specific comorbidities associated with childhood obesity to target interventions that could enhance well-being. Future research should examine additional comorbidities and seek to confirm associations using longitudinal data and clinical measures of height and weight.

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Available from: Neal Halfon, Sep 02, 2014
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    • "Numerous variables that prior literature has associated with physical health and development were included as covariates to help address concerns of omitted variable bias and identify unique associations between health and development. Child characteristics included indicators for gender, being a twin or triplet, and diagnosis of autism or ADHD (included due to established associations between these conditions, physical health, and developmental competencies; Gurney et al., 2006; Halfon et al., 2013). Child race/ethnicity was coded as White, Black, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, or multiracial. "
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