Psychosocial, behavioral and clinical correlates of children with overweight and obesity

Thaker, Vidhu V.; Osganian, Stavroula K.; deFerranti, Sarah D.; Sonneville, Kendrin R.; Cheng, Jennifer K.; Feldman, Henry A.; Richmond, Tracy K.

Psychological and behavioral correlates are considered important in the development and persistence of obesity in both adults and youth. This study aimed to identify such features in youth with severe obesity (BMI ≥ 120% of 95thpercentile of sex-specific BMI-for-age) compared to those with overweight or non-severe obesity.

Youth with BMI ≥ 85th percentile were invited to participate in a prospective research registry where data was collected on attributes such as family characteristics, eating behaviors, dietary intake, physical activity, perception of health and mental well-being, and cardiometabolic parameters.

In a racially/ethnically diverse cohort of 105 youth (65% female, median age 16.1 years, range 4.62–25.5), 51% had severe obesity. The body fat percent increased with the higher levels of obesity. There were no differences in the self-reported frequency of intake of sugar sweetened beverages or fresh produce across the weight categories. However, the participants with severe obesity reported higher levels of emotional eating and eating when bored (p = 0.022), levels of stress (p = 0.013), engaged in fewer sports or organized activities (p = 0.044), and had suboptimal perception of health (p = 0.053). Asthma, depression and obstructive sleep apnea were more frequently reported in youth with severe obesity. The presence of abnormal HDL-C, HOMA-IR, hs-CRP and multiple cardiometabolic risk factors were more common among youth with severe obesity.

Youth with severe obesity have identifiable differences in psychosocial and behavioral attributes that can be used to develop targeted intervention strategies to improve their health.

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December 20, 2022


Childhood obesity, Psychosocial, Behavioral