A recent study conducted by researchers from Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden has found that obesity is an independent risk factor for anxiety and depression among children and teenagers.
According to the journal PubMed, over 8.1%–22.2% of young adults in Nigeria are obese. Among Nigeria adolescents, mental health conditions are also prevalent.
In order to affirm their submission, the researchers examined the link between mental health conditions and obesity in over 12,000 children and teenagers.
The findings published at the European Congress on Obesity, and reported on Medical News Today affirmed that obesity raises the risk of anxiety and depression, which is something that medical technicians should be vigilant about.
Louise Lindberg, lead researcher of the new study explained that about 32 percent of young people ages 13–17 have had an anxiety condition at some point in their lives, according to research published last year.
To comprehend this analogy, Lindberg and her team examined data on over 12,000 children and teenagers ages 6–17 who had received treatment for obesity, and they compared them with the data of more than 60,000 counterparts who did not have obesity.
The researchers sourced the data in 2005–2015 as part of the Swedish Childhood Obesity Treatment Register. Over an average period of 4.5 years, more than 4,200 of the children and teenagers developed anxiety or depression.
The girls with obesity were 43 percent more likely to experience anxiety or depression compared with their age- and sex-matched peers. The risk of anxiety and depression was also 33 percent higher among boys with obesity, compared with their peers who did not have obesity.
The team adjusted for other risk factors for depression and anxiety, such as migration background, other neuropsychiatric conditions, a history of mental health issues in the family, and socioeconomic status.
After adjusting for these factors, obesity still raised the risk of developing anxiety and depression.
Specifically, 11.6 percent of the girls who had obesity received such a diagnosis, compared with 6 person of girls without obesity. Also, 8 percent of boys with obesity received the diagnosis, compared with 4.1 percent of boys without obesity.
Lindedberg explained that there is a clear increased risk of anxiety and depressive disorders in children and adolescents with obesity compared with a population-based comparison group that cannot be explained by other known risk factors such as socioeconomic status and neuropsychiatric disorders.
Adding to that she said the results suggests that children and adolescents with obesity also have an increased risk of anxiety and depression, something that healthcare professionals need to be vigilant about.
The scientists also acknowledge some limitations to their study that it is observational and they cannot say anything about the mechanisms behind the associations.
Importantly, they had no access to any information on the height or weight of the boys and girls in the control group.
Finally, the data on how many people have anxiety and depression may be biased. This is because many people who live with these conditions do not seek professional help.