Psychosocial aspects of childhood obesity
Minerva Pediatrica , Volume 63 - Issue 6 p. 491- 505
Rates of childhood obesity are increasing at alarming rates worldwide. This is especially alarming as obesity is associated with many physical and psychological consequences. A great number of studies indicate that obese children have an impaired psychological well-being (e.g., depression, self-esteem, and quality of life) compared to their non-overweight peers. There has been an overwhelming amount of research conducted in this area over the past few decades, and as such, this paper provides a summarized overview of the vast trove of available information on the psychosocial aspects of childhood obesity. In this paper we provide a summarized overview of: 1) psychosocial aspects that contribute to the onset of childhood obesity; 2) psychosocial consequences of childhood obesity; and 3) familial-based lifestyle behavior modification interventions for treating childhood obesity and its treatment success. Although it seems obvious that obese children and adolescents would likely be at higher risk for psychological problems, the mediating factors in the relationship between psychological problems and obesity are still not well established. Obesity is a complex disorder with an equally complex etiology, and is thus associated with complex behaviors and outcomes that make it difficult to study in children. It has been indicated that family-based lifestyle interventions can improve psychological well-being in obese children; however, not all children profit from these interventions. Interventions aimed at improving treatment results need further investigation. For example, interventions targeted specifically at groups that tend to be less successful in weight-loss programs and interventions providing long-term support to these individuals are recommended.