For boys, being overweight or obese significantly lowers their quality of life compared to healthy weight peers. Interestingly, these results were not found in girls.
The study, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, also showed that quality of life (QOL) scores improved for children of either sex whose weight status changed from overweight/obese to normal.
The research involved more than 2,000 Australian school children who were about 12 years old at the start of the study in 2004-2005. The researchers followed up with the children after five years.
The participants then answered a questionnaire designed to measure whether being obese (also known as adiposity) influenced their quality of life at age 17 or 18.
“Adiposity in boys was associated with poorer quality of life during adolescence. This association was not observed among girls.
“In both boys and girls, though, persistent overweight or obesity was related to poorer physical functioning after the five years. In contrast, weight loss was associated with improved quality of life during adolescence,” said Bamini Gopinath, Ph.D., senior research fellow at the University of Sydney in Australia.
The questionnaire measured the children’s physical and psychosocial health. It also calculated a combined total quality of life score. The psychosocial health summary score reflected how well the teens were functioning emotionally and socially.
The study revealed that both males and females who were obese at the start of the study and who later reduced to a normal weight had far better physical functioning scores than those who remained obese after five years. These physical functioning scores measured one aspect of the overall quality of life score.
“The findings suggest that an unhealthy weight status and excess body fat could negatively impact the mental and physical wellbeing of adolescents, particularly boys,” said Gopinath.
He noted that the study highlights the value of looking at the quality of life among obese teens in both clinical practice and in research studies.
He also added that “obesity prevention and treatment efforts [ought] to address the broad spectrum of psychosocial implications of being obese as a teenager.”
Lawrence J. Cheskin, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center, noted that the differences in quality of life and physical functioning between obese and normal weight teens has not been carefully done before.
“The fact that QOL improved with improvement in weight over time is also important,” said Cheskin. He added that parents, health care providers and teenagers need to understand the far-reaching effects that being overweight can have on a teen’s enjoyment of life.
Source: Center for Advancing Health