Background: Adolescence is a critical period for the development of depressive symptoms and obesity. This study examined the association of depressive symptoms with standardized BMI (BMI z-score), lifestyle behaviors, and self-efficacy measures in a sample of urban adolescents.
Methods: A school-based study was conducted among adolescents (N=1508) enrolled from 11 public schools. Depressive symptoms were assessed with Kandel's depressive symptoms scale for adolescents. Fruit and vegetable intake and intake of energy-dense foods were assessed by a short food frequency questionnaire. Sedentary behavior and physical activity (PA) were obtained by self-report. Height and weight were measured directly and BMI z-scores were calculated. Mixed-effects models were used to examine the association of depressive symptoms with BMI z-score and lifestyle behaviors, accounting for clustering at school level and adjusting for confounders. Self-efficacy measures were evaluated as potential mediators.
Results: The sample was 53% female, 75% Hispanic, and 82% US born, with a mean age of 13.9 years. Higher depressive symptoms were associated with higher BMI z-score (β=0.02; p=0.02), intake of energy-dense foods (β=0.42; p<0.001), and sedentary behavior (β=0.48; p<0.001), but lower PA (β=-0.03; p=0.01). There was an interaction by gender in the association of depressive symptoms and PA. Self-efficacy mediated the association of depressive symptoms and PA.
Conclusions: Obesity prevention and treatment programs should consider addressing the role of negative emotions as part of their preventive strategies.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Nutrition and Dietetics