Asian Scientist (Aug. 27, 2013) – Schoolchildren suffering from obesity are at higher risk of developing psychological problems than their slimmer counterparts, according to a new study in Taiwan.
The study, involving scientists from Australia and Taiwan, studied over 2,000 Taiwanese schoolchildren aged 6–13 years. The researchers examined whether emotional disturbances (ED) such as inappropriate behavior, relationship problems, depression, or an inability to learn was associated with obesity.
In their study, published in Research in Developmental Disability, the researchers found that boys (16.5 per cent) were significantly more likely to be obese than girls (11.7 per cent). However, while ED becomes more prevalent as children move up through the grades, obesity prevalence remains fairly constant.
The research found the occurrence of relationship problems was higher among obese (23.5 per cent) than among normal weight (14.4 per cent) and overweight (14.8 per cent) children.
Conversely, the prevalence of obesity was higher among children with emotional disorders such as inability to learn and unhappiness or depression (16.9 per cent), than without these issues (13.7 per cent).
The researchers said the findings suggest there are extensive and complex interactions between body composition and emotions during child development.
“The early identification of children at risk of developing these combinations of physical and mental health problems may enable interventions that can help to prevent progression to more serious physical and mental health problems in later life,” said Professor Mark Wahlqvist, the senior author of the study.
Source: Monash University; Photo: CABloem/Flickr/CC.
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