Research abstract to be presented at American Academy of Pediatrics 2018 National Conference & Exhibition in Orlando shows that teens and adolescents with obesity are more likely to face psychosocial challenges.
ORLANDO, Fla. – A new study suggests that childhood obesity, now at epidemic levels in the United States, may affect school performance and coping skills for challenging situations. The study abstract, “Childhood Flourishing is Negatively Associated with Obesity,” will be presented on Saturday, Nov. 3, during the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) 2018 National Conference & Exhibition.
Researchers analyzed responses from 22,914 parents and caregivers of children aged 10-17 years who participated in the 2016 National Survey of Children's Health. The goal was to determine the independent association between body mass index (BMI) and five markers of “flourishing,” or overall well-being as it relates to the development of positive psychosocial and coping skills.
obesity is one of the biggest public health challenges we face today,”
said Natasha Gill, MD, FAAP, a Pediatric Emergency Medicine Fellow at
the Alpert Medical School of Brown University and Hasbro Children’s
Hospital. “We know that children with obesity are at a greater risk for long-term health conditions that can last into adulthood, and we wanted to see whether obesity affects a child’s immediate well-being as it relates to development of psychosocial skills and other signs of flourishing.”
Adjusting for several confounding variables, including
gender, child depression status, average sleep hours per night, average
digital media exposure per day, highest parental education level, and
household poverty status, Dr. Gill and her colleagues analyzed parents’ responses to questions about whether their child:
“Shows interest and curiosity in learning new things”
“Works to finish tasks he or she starts”
“Stays calm and in control when faced with a challenge”
“Cares about doing well in school”
Researchers found that only 27.5 percent of children with obesity, defined as a BMI at or above the 95th percentile for children and teens of the same age and sex, were reported to have all five flourishing markers. This compares with 36.5 percent of those in the overweight range, with BMI at or above the 85th percentile, and 39 percent of children with normal BMI.
“The negative relationship between obesity and flourishing markers suggests that when compared to children with a normal BMI, obese youth may be less likely to develop healthy relationships, positive attitudes, a sense of purpose and responsibility, and interest in learning,” Dr. Gill said. “Individual markers of flourishing have been shown to stay the same over time like a person’s personality,” she said, “so it may be important to monitor these markers in childhood to ensure optimal development into adulthood.”
“We want all children to reach their maximum potential,” she said. “If we can intervene early enough, we can promote positive physical, mental, and social development for these at-risk children and help them become responsible, hard-working members of society.” She said her study’s findings support the need for focused and coordinated efforts and resources from schools and health care providers that target obesity to improve overall well-being.
Dr. Gill will present an abstract of the study, available below, between 3:30–5 p.m. ET on Saturday, Nov. 3, in the Bayhill 19 room at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL.
addition, Dr Gill will be among highlighted abstract authors available
during an informal Media Meet-and-Greet session Saturday, November 3,
from 1 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. EST in room W208AB of the Orange County
Convention Center (Press Office).
During the meeting, you may reach AAP media relations staff in the National Conference Press Room at 407-685-5404.
note: only the abstract is being presented at the meeting. In some
cases, the researcher may have more data available to share with media, or may be preparing a longer article for submission to a journal.
American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary
care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric
surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of
infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information,
Reporters can access the meeting program and other relevant meeting
information through the AAP meeting website at
Abstract Title: Childhood Flourishing is Negatively Associated with Obesity
Background and Objective: There
are limited studies describing how obesity affects childhood
flourishing, or positive well-being. This study evaluates the
relationship between obesity and several childhood flourishing markers
among school-aged children.
Methods: This cross-sectional study utilized parental reported data for children aged 10-17 years (n=22,914) from the 2016 National Survey of Children's Health (NSCH). Multiple
binary regressions assessed the association between BMI-for-age and
five childhood flourishing markers independently and combined, including
completing homework, showing interest in learning, finishing tasks,
staying calm when challenged, and caring about academics. Odds ratios
were adjusted for age, gender, depression, sleep, digital media
exposure, poverty, and parental education level.
28.9% of parents with obese children reported all five flourishing
markers compared to 38% for overweight, and 40.5% for normal weight
children. In an adjusted model, obese children had significantly
decreased odds of demonstrating four of five flourishing markers: showing interest in learning (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 0.78, 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.62-0.97), finishing tasks (aOR = 0.77, 95% CI, 0.63-0.94), staying calm when challenged (aOR = 0.73, 95% CI, 0.59-0.90), and caring about academics (aOR = 0.69, 95% CI, 0.50-0.86). Completing homework was not found to be associated with obesity. Children with obesity also had a 23% decreased odds (aOR = 0.77, 95% CI, 0.61-0.98) of meeting the combined measure for flourishing markers.
negative association with multiple childhood flourishing markers may
lead to poorer individual and public health outcomes. Obesity
interventions today could improve youth flourishing and reduce future
psychiatric, medical, and social issues.
*Model adjusted for
age, gender, child’s depression status, average sleep (in hours per day),
average digital media exposure (in hours per day), highest parental education
level, and household poverty status