Adolescent Weight and Depressive Symptoms: For Whom is Weight a Burden?

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13 Scopus citations


Objective. Adolescent weight and depressive symptoms are serious population health concerns in their own right and as they relate to each other. This study asks whether relationships between weight and depressive symptoms vary by sex and race/ethnicity because both shape experiences of weight and psychological distress. Methods. Results are based on multivariate analyses of National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) data. Results. There are no associations between adolescent girls' weight and depressive symptoms, but these associations vary considerably among boys. Underweight is associated with depressive symptoms among all boys and subpopulations of white and Hispanic boys. Among Hispanic boys, those who are overweight (vs. normal weight) have a lower probability of reporting depressive symptoms. Finally, among normal weight boys, Hispanics and blacks are more likely to report depressive symptoms than whites. Conclusions. Findings are a reminder that understanding population health issues sometimes requires a focus on subpopulations, not simply the population as a whole.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1019-1038
Number of pages20
JournalSocial Science Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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