Feeling Fat Rather than Being Fat May Be Associated with Psychological Well-Being in Young Dutch Adolescents
Purpose: To contribute to a further exploration of the association of psychosocial well-being with overweight and weight perception among young Dutch adolescents. Methods: Data from the ongoing Rotterdam Youth Health Monitor were used from 1,923 9-10-year-olds and 3,841 12-13-year-olds. The association of mental health indicators with weight status based on self-report and measured height and weight was studied with logistic regression analyses in both age groups cross-sectionally. Additional longitudinal analyses were conducted among the 787 pupils for whom follow-up data were available. Interactions with gender and ethnic background were explored. Among the 12-13-year-olds, the role of weight perception was also studied. Results: We found that 9-10-year-old obese boys scored more favourably on social anxiety than nonoverweight boys. Among 12-13-year-olds body weight perception, rather than self-reported or measured weight status was associated with mental health indicators. Mental health indicators at age 9-10 years did not predict self-reported weight status at age 12-13 or change in weight status between 9-10 and 12-13 years, nor did weight status at age 9-10 years predict later mental health indicators or change in these indicators. Conclusions: This study provides no evidence that overweight does coincide with less favorable psychological well-being in young adolescents. In 12-13-year-old adolescents, feeling overweight, rather than being overweight, appears to be important.