Depression, Anxiety Among Overweight Teenagers Varies by Race, Ethnicity, Study Finds
Some overweight teenagers are more likely than normal weight teens to show symptoms of depression or anxiety, though there are differences by race and ethnicity, according to a study published in the February issue of Pediatrics, Reuters Health reports. The study, by Rhonda BeLue of Pennsylvania State University and colleagues, is based on a national survey of 35,184 parents of teens ages 12 to 17.
Researchers found parents of an overweight white or Hispanic teen were more likely than parents of healthy weight children to say their child displayed symptoms of depression or anxiety. According to the study, the finding was not true for parents of black teens.
The reasons for the racial differences were not clear, but researchers said previous studies have shown that black teenagers are not as affected by excess pounds as white teens and appear to be under less pressure from family and friends to be thin. Researchers added it also is possible that black teens deal with a "constellation" of stresses in their lives, making excess weight less significant to their overall mental well-being.
Researchers recommended that childhood obesity programs account for racial differences in risks of mental health problems related to the condition (Reuters Health, 1/27).
An abstract of the study is available online.