Associations between depressive symptoms and obesity during puberty

Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2006 Jul-Aug;28(4):313-20. doi: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2006.03.007.


Background: Adolescent depression has been shown to be associated with later development of obesity. The purpose of this study was to examine the association between depressive symptoms and obesity with progressive pubertal development.

Methods: We conducted an analysis of the association between depressive symptoms and obesity using data from a cross-sectional study of 3101 youth aged 11-17 years. Logistic regression analyses were used to control for maternal education level, race and age. Analyses were stratified by pubertal status and sex to examine how the relationship between depressive symptoms and obesity varies with pubertal development.

Results: Depressive symptoms increased with pubertal development for both boys and girls, but the increase was larger for girls. Obesity prevalence was similar for all categories of pubertal development in boys and girls. After controlling for age, pubertal development, parental education and race, an association was noted between depressive symptoms and obesity among both males and females. Youth above the 90th percentile in the depressive symptom score had two times the odds of being obese [males: odds ratio (OR)=1.95, 95% confidence interval (95% CI)=1.19-3.18; females: OR=2.17, 95% CI=1.25-3.77]. With the exception of males in late puberty (OR=0.91, 95% CI=0.29-2.87), the magnitude of this association between depressive symptoms and obesity was similar for all levels of pubertal development, with no apparent increase in later puberty among girls.

Conclusion: Depressive symptoms and obesity were associated during adolescence, and this association did not increase with advancing pubertal development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Demography
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Depression / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Prevalence
  • Puberty*