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Examining Mental Health Disorders in Overweight and Obese Pediatric Patients

      Introduction

      We investigated the frequency and variation in three mental health diagnoses among obese or overweight children and adolescents.

      Method

      Logistic regression was used to examine the association between the outcome variables—anxiety, depression, 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. In addition, diagnosis rates for one or more of these disorders increase as children grow into adolescence. Furthermore, 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: (1) early adolescence (aged 11–14 years) for depressive and adjustment disorders and (2) early childhood (aged 2–4 years) for anxiety disorder.

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      Biography

      Rachel Carroll, Researcher, Human Services Division, American Institutes for Research, Arlington, VA.

      Biography

      April A. Bice, Assistant Professor, School of Nursing, University of North Carolina Wilmington, Wilmington, NC.

      Biography

      Anka Roberto, Assistant Professor, School of Nursing, University of North Carolina Wilmington, Wilmington, NC.

      Biography

      Christopher R. Prentice, Associate Professor, Department of Public and International Affairs, University of North Carolina Wilmington, Wilmington, NC.