Introduction: We investigated the frequency and variation in three mental health diagnoses among obese or overweight children and adolescents.
Methods: Logistic regression was used to examine the association between each of the outcome variables – anxiety, depressive, and adjustment disorders – with the following covariates: overweight/obesity status, sex, age, and race.
Results: Findings show anxiety, depressive, and adjustment disorder diagnoses were significantly higher for overweight or obese youth in our sample. Additionally, diagnosis rates for one or more of these disorders increase as children grow into adolescence. Further, we found significantly higher rates of depression and significantly lower rates of anxiety among youth who live in places with higher rates of poverty.
Discussion: Findings indicate a target age for providers to focus on mental health screening among overweight/obese patients: (a) early adolescence (11-14 years old) for depression and adjustment disorder, and (b) early childhood (2-4 years old) for anxiety disorder.