The relationship between childhood onset obesity and psychopathology in adulthood

J Psychol. 1993 Sep;127(5):547-51. doi: 10.1080/00223980.1993.9914892.


We administered the Symptom Checklist (Derogatis, 1975; SCL-90-R) to 37 obese subjects in outpatient treatment for obesity. Patients with early onset obesity demonstrated a greater frequency and higher levels of emotional distress and psychiatric symptomatology than patients with late onset obesity. Individuals who developed obesity in childhood showed more psychopathology than those who developed obesity later in life. Overall, these findings support the belief that obesity is characteristically associated with greater internal psychological conflict. These findings further suggest that childhood obesity could serve as a predictor variable for possible future psychological disturbance in obese populations.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age of Onset*
  • Child
  • Child Welfare*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Personality Disorders / etiology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology