There is evidence that overweight and obese children tend to remain overweight or obese into adolescence and adulthood. However, little is known about the long-term psychosocial outcomes of childhood overweight and obesity. This study aimed to investigate the course of psychosocial difficulties over a 2-year period for children who were overweight or obese at baseline, and a sample of children who were a healthy weight at baseline. Participants were 212 children aged 8 to 13 years at baseline, who were participating in the Childhood Growth and Development (GAD) Study. Questionnaire and interview measures were used to assess children’s self-esteem, depressive symptoms, body image, eating disorder symptoms, experiences with bullying, family satisfaction and quality of life. Linear mixed models were used to consider longitudinal changes in psychosocial variables. Overweight and obese children reported greater psychosocial distress than healthy weight children, and these differences were more pronounced for girls than boys. Weight and psychosocial impairment showed stability from baseline to 2-year follow-up.
: The results of this study suggest that psychosocial difficulties show considerable stability in childhood, for overweight/obese and healthy weight children.
What is Known:
• Childhood obesity tracks into adolescence and adulthood.
• Physical health problems associated with childhood obesity also persist to adulthood.
What is New:
• Overweight and obese children are at risk of ongoing psychosocial distress from childhood into early adolescence.