Associations between obesity and comorbid mental health, developmental, and physical health conditions in a nationally representative sample of US children aged 10 to 17

Acad Pediatr. Jan-Feb 2013;13(1):6-13. doi: 10.1016/j.acap.2012.10.007. Epub 2012 Nov 30.

Abstract

Objective: 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.

Methods: 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.

Results: 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.

Conclusions: 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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Asthma / epidemiology
  • Attention Deficit and Disruptive Behavior Disorders / epidemiology
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / epidemiology
  • Learning Disabilities / epidemiology
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pediatric Obesity / epidemiology*
  • United States / epidemiology