Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Childhood obesity and behavior problems linked

03.11.2003


In a study that points to the importance of considering both mind and body in children’s health, researchers report today that they have found a clear link between childhood obesity and behavior problems.



Results published today in the journal Pediatrics show that children who have significant behavior problems, as described by their parents, are nearly three times as likely to be overweight as other children. In addition, children with behavior problems are as much as five times more likely to become overweight later.

The study, done by a University of Michigan behavioral pediatrician and her former colleagues at Boston University, is based on national data from an intensive long-term survey of mothers and children conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor.


"This demonstrates solidly for the first time what we have suspected for years from clinical experience, that there is an association between behavior problems and obesity, and that a child with behavior problems is more likely to go on to be overweight. This is true regardless of socioeconomic status," says lead author Julie Lumeng, M.D., a research investigator at the U-M Center for Human Growth and Development and clinical instructor in the U-M Department of Pediatrics.

"In other words, we can’t ignore either the mind or the body in trying to prevent the lifelong health effects from weight problems and mental disorders that start in childhood," she adds. "When interventions aren’t working with a child who is overweight, we need to address his or her mental well-being - and vice versa for kids with behavioral problems."

The study looked at comprehensive demographic, weight, behavior, physical and mental health, education and socioeconomic data from 755 children ages 8 to 11 years old, and their mothers. All were taking part in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, which sends interviewers to participants’ homes on a regular basis over many years. Because they used this data source, Lumeng and her colleagues feel they have compiled the largest and most representative study of children’s behavior and weight to date.

The children in the study were classed as overweight if their body mass index (BMI) was at or above the 95th percentile. Children were described as having behavior problems only if they were in the 90th percentile nationally for their score on the Behavior Problems Index, a standardized behavior rating scale completed by their mothers.

The association between overweight and behavior problems was clear in data from the 755 children assessed in 1998. Data from 639 children interviewed both in 1996 and 1998 showed the higher risk of later obesity in normal-weight kids with behavior issues.

Lumeng and her colleagues stress that the majority of the overweight children in the study did not have a major behavior problem -- only that there was a significant correlation between the two. Twenty-one percent of the children with behavior problems were overweight, as opposed to 11 percent of the children without behavior problems.

But with one in five American children between the ages of 6 and 11 years now considered overweight, and an increasing awareness that childhood behavioral problems are a predictor of adult mental health issues, she says the finding should be a wake-up call to parents, teachers and physicians.

Everyone involved with a child’s growth and development should consider physical health and mental/behavioral health linked in some way, she says, and address problems with an eye toward both. When a school counselor alerts a parent to a child’s learning or attention problem, for example, or a physician notes an unhealthy weight gain, they need to help parents get a thorough evaluation of a child’s overall mental and physical health. And, Lumeng observes, the health insurance and health care system needs to find a way to integrate both kinds of care.

In both analyses, the researchers were able to see the clear links between the two conditions even after correcting for such contributing variables as a child’s gender, race, poverty status, television habits, use of behavior-modifying medicines, and educational history, and factors relating to the obesity status, smoking habits, marital status, education and depression score of a child’s mother,

"After all of these were accounted for, we saw a clear independent association," says Lumeng. "Children with behavioral problems were three times as likely to be overweight at the same time, and five times more likely to be overweight in 1998 if they had been normal weight in 1996."

Armed with these strong suggestions of some direct link between behavior problems and overweight, Lumeng says the next challenge is to understand what’s going on.

Genetics and family cultural and home environment are known to play a role in the tendency of children to become overweight, and researchers are exploring how brain chemistry, sleep habits and home environment affect behavior and learning. Meanwhile, social research is looking at how stigmas or lifestyle changes from being overweight, or from having a diagnosed or undiagnosed behavior issue, affect children.

For example, Lumeng says, children who are depressed are often less active, or may console themselves with food, which may set them up for weight gain. And overweight children may develop anxieties or social interaction problems because of self-consciousness or teasing about their weight. But only further research will show for sure.

Lumeng and her colleagues have also embarked on another study looking at national data on the height and weight of children in child care over time, to see if there are any positive or negative correlations with care outside the home.

Kara Gavin | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.med.umich.edu/1toolbar/whatsnew.htm

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures
17.11.2017 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

nachricht High speed video recording precisely measures blood cell velocity
15.11.2017 | ITMO University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

Im Focus: Researchers Develop Data Bus for Quantum Computer

The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...

Im Focus: Wrinkles give heat a jolt in pillared graphene

Rice University researchers test 3-D carbon nanostructures' thermal transport abilities

Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA detects solar flare pulses at Sun and Earth

17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

NIST scientists discover how to switch liver cancer cell growth from 2-D to 3-D structures

17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine

The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change

17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>