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Does overweight cause behavioral problems?

A study published in the Archives of Diseases in Childhood has shown that chidren who are overweight// at age 5 do not have behavioural problems at age 14. Obesity starts from childhood and there are evidences to show that it can increase risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease in adulthood. But studies on the associations of body size with psychological distress have been inconsistent.

So the present study was undertaken to determine the association between obesity and behavioral problems. Nearly 3000 children belonging to a birth cohort who were born in Brisbane between 1981 and 1984 were followed up at ages 5 and 14 years. . Behavioural problems were defined based on a scoring of above the 90th centile on Achenbach’s child behavioural checklist.

At ages 5 and 14 detailed physical, behavioural, and developmental examinations of the children was undertaken and at 14 years health, welfare, and lifestyle questionnaires was adminstered to the children.

The results of the study showed that there was no association between being overweight and behavioural problems in both sexes at age 5. At 14 years overweight females were more likely to experience behavioural problemsbut no association was found in 14 year old males. The prevalence of behavioural problems increased corresponding to an increase in body mass index in females at age 14.

The study reported that in prospective analyses, there was no association between being overweight at age 5 and behavioural problems at age 14 in either sex in children with no behavioural problems at age 5. Also overweight females children at age 5 who had normal weight at age 14 had reduced odds of behavioural problems at age 14. The authors concluded that being overweight at age 5 was not associated with behavioural problems in either sex at age 14 while in adolescent females there was a positive linear association between body size and behavioural problems.

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