Overweight Kids Suffer Depression, Loneliness

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
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A new study shows that children who are overweight can suffer from depression and loneliness. A new study from University of Missouri shows that girls especially are affected, beginning as early as kindergarten. As obesity rates climb, researchers try to uncover the negative consequences of being overweight in childhood.

Sara Gable, associate professor of human development and family studies in the MU College of Human Environmental Sciences says, "We found that both boys and girls who were overweight from kindergarten through third grade displayed more depression, anxiety and loneliness than kids who were never overweight, and those negative feelings worsened over time. Being overweight carries a negative stigma for children and adults.

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Dr. Gable says, “All kids should learn what constitutes a healthy weight and healthy lifestyle." The researchers used a tool called the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort to look closely at social and behavioral development of 8,000 school-age children upon entering kindergarten and through the third grade.

Children who were overweight or approaching higher body mass index were viewed unfavorably. Teachers reported more acting out, fewer positive social interactions, and less self-control among overweight children, compared to those who were never overweight.

Preventing obesity starts at home. Children should be taught what constitutes healthy eating. The implications of being overweight can have a negative impact on children who can experience loneliness and depression from obesity.

University of Missouri

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