A recent study examined the association between mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety, with body mass index in young children.
Previous research and surveys have shown that a growing number of people in the US are obese, and around 32% of children between the age group of 13 to 17 suffer mental health conditions. A team of researchers from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden decided to investigate the connection between obesity and risk of mental health conditions in young children.
The team of researchers led by Louise Lindberg analyzed data of over 12,000 children from the Swedish Childhood Obesity Treatment Register for the period 2005 to 2015. All children were aged 6 to 17 years. The data showed that approximately 4,200 children had developed anxiety or depression over the course of 5 years. Girls with obesity were found to be 43% more likely to develop a mental health condition. The risk of boys with obesity was 33% higher compared to non-obese children in the age and sex-matched category. Researchers took into account factors such as family history of mental illness, economic well-being and so on. "These results suggest that children and adolescents with obesity also have an increased risk of anxiety and depression, something that healthcare professionals need to be vigilant about," explained Louise Lindberg.
The researchers, however, acknowledge that there may be certain level of bias in the data as people with mental health problems tend to not seek professional help for these conditions. “Given the rise of obesity and impaired mental health in young people," Lindberg says, "Understanding the links between childhood obesity, depression, and anxiety is vital." She concluded that further research would be required in order to strengthen their findings.
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