New study shows correlation between teen obesity and mental health issues

January 19, 2021

Half of all young people treated for severe obesity have neuropsychiatric problems, according to a new study by researchers from Lund University and Gothenburg, Sweden, among others. Two thirds of the teens suffered from some type of mental health problem, as reported by themselves or their parents.

Both obesity and mental illness have increased among young people during the 2000s. Researchers have long observed a connection between obesity and ADHD/depression/eating disorders, but it has seldom been studied.

The present study involved 48 teenagers (73% girls), with an average age of 15 and an average BMI of 42, which is severe obesity. Half of the participants received medical treatment for obesity, while the other half underwent surgery.

The teenagers' parents completed questionnaires to measure their children's symptoms of ADHD and autism. The adolescents themselves responded to questions about binge eating and symptoms of depression.

The results show that over half of the parents estimated that their teenagers had difficulties resembling ADHD and/or autism, despite only a few of them having been previously diagnosed with these conditions.

"Symptoms of ADHD mean that the person has difficulty with impulse control. This increases the risk of eating without being hungry and the tendency to opt for quick solutions such as fast food", says Kajsa Järvholm, a psychology researcher at Lund University and the University of Gothenburg.

"People on the autism spectrum are sometimes more selective in their eating than others. They only accept certain dishes but may eat more of them as a result", she says.

One fifth of the adolescents reported suffering symptoms of depression. One third of them reported problems with binge eating, which is a loss of control resulting in the person eating large quantities of food in a short time.

"Contrary to our expectations, the adolescents with neuropsychiatric difficulties did not have more problems with binge eating and depression than the other adolescents in the group", says Järvholm.

Altogether, the information provided by the parents and adolescents revealed that two thirds of the patients in the study had difficulties arising from neuropsychiatric problems, binge eating and/or depression.

The researchers believe that the findings reveal a need to personalise treatments for adolescents with severe obesity as the majority also reported mental illness.
-end-


Lund University

Related Science Articles from Brightsurf:

75 science societies urge the education department to base Title IX sexual harassment regulations on evidence and science
The American Educational Research Association (AERA) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) today led 75 scientific societies in submitting comments on the US Department of Education's proposed changes to Title IX regulations.

Science/Science Careers' survey ranks top biotech, biopharma, and pharma employers
The Science and Science Careers' 2018 annual Top Employers Survey polled employees in the biotechnology, biopharmaceutical, pharmaceutical, and related industries to determine the 20 best employers in these industries as well as their driving characteristics.

Science in the palm of your hand: How citizen science transforms passive learners
Citizen science projects can engage even children who previously were not interested in science.

Applied science may yield more translational research publications than basic science
While translational research can happen at any stage of the research process, a recent investigation of behavioral and social science research awards granted by the NIH between 2008 and 2014 revealed that applied science yielded a higher volume of translational research publications than basic science, according to a study published May 9, 2018 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Xueying Han from the Science and Technology Policy Institute, USA, and colleagues.

Prominent academics, including Salk's Thomas Albright, call for more science in forensic science
Six scientists who recently served on the National Commission on Forensic Science are calling on the scientific community at large to advocate for increased research and financial support of forensic science as well as the introduction of empirical testing requirements to ensure the validity of outcomes.

World Science Forum 2017 Jordan issues Science for Peace Declaration
On behalf of the coordinating organizations responsible for delivering the World Science Forum Jordan, the concluding Science for Peace Declaration issued at the Dead Sea represents a global call for action to science and society to build a future that promises greater equality, security and opportunity for all, and in which science plays an increasingly prominent role as an enabler of fair and sustainable development.

PETA science group promotes animal-free science at society of toxicology conference
The PETA International Science Consortium Ltd. is presenting two posters on animal-free methods for testing inhalation toxicity at the 56th annual Society of Toxicology (SOT) meeting March 12 to 16, 2017, in Baltimore, Maryland.

Citizen Science in the Digital Age: Rhetoric, Science and Public Engagement
James Wynn's timely investigation highlights scientific studies grounded in publicly gathered data and probes the rhetoric these studies employ.

Science/Science Careers' survey ranks top biotech, pharma, and biopharma employers
The Science and Science Careers' 2016 annual Top Employers Survey polled employees in the biotechnology, biopharmaceutical, pharmaceutical, and related industries to determine the 20 best employers in these industries as well as their driving characteristics.

Three natural science professors win TJ Park Science Fellowship
Professor Jung-Min Kee (Department of Chemistry, UNIST), Professor Kyudong Choi (Department of Mathematical Sciences, UNIST), and Professor Kwanpyo Kim (Department of Physics, UNIST) are the recipients of the Cheong-Am (TJ Park) Science Fellowship of the year 2016.

Read More: Science News and Science Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.