The Association Between Depression and Overweight/Obesity Among Ethnic Minority Youth
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Depression and obesity are two conditions that influence many of today's children and adolescents. Individually, each condition can have adverse developmental and functional consequences. There is growing interest in examination of the two together and recent research has established a link between them. This dissertation study reviews the current knowledge about the association between depression and overweight/obesity in youth, as well as risk factors for overweight/obesity. It adds new directions to the recent research by exploring the association among ethnic minority youth in order to address the shortcomings of previous studies. Two separate study samples were examined in this dissertation. Study 1 consisted of 1,106 ethnically diverse middle school students from Seattle, WA. An examination of race/ethnicity and gender differences in the association between depression and overweight/obesity was conducted using a cross-sectional design. Results suggested that a positive association existed for White adolescents, but not for the other groups. In addition, Latino adolescents had higher weight status compared to their peers who were White. Further, a three-way interaction emerged whereby Latino males with higher levels of depressive symptoms had lower weight status as well as decreased odds of being classified overweight/obese. Study 2 consisted of two examinations with a sample of 674 Mexican American youth from Northern California. The first was a longitudinal examination of the depression-overweight/obesity association as Mexican American children transitioned from 5th -7th grade. While no association was found from 5th to 6th grade, a negative association emerged whereby higher weight status in 6th grade was associated with lower depressive symptoms in 7th grade. The second examination tested a hypothesized model of the development of overweight/obesity among Mexican American adolescents. The model found that sleep influences physical exercise and depression among Mexican American youth, but risk factors and predictors for overweight/obesity were not found and remain unclear. Together, results from both Study 1 and Study 2 provide complex support for the association among Latino youth and suggest that the two conditions may not be positively associated among this ethnic group.
- Psychology