Topic 2 Psychological features of children/adolescents with increased weight status

Childhood obesity is a disturbing problem which can lead not only to  physical, health-related issues in children but can also cause psychological and emotional problems.

  • Children as young as five years old are aware of their abnormal weight status, which has a considerable influence on the more derogatory manner in which they perceive their own appearance, physical and social competence and self-esteem.
  • In several community-based studies, overweight boys and girls – already at a very young age (3–5 years) – have been more likely to report the presence of emotional problems as compared with normal-weight adolescents. There is currently growing literature showing that overweight and obese children or adolescents are targets of societal stigmatization and teasing by peers, educators, and even parents.
  • Behavioral problems are found to a greater extent in overweight children compared with normal-weight peers, particularly in prepubertal children. Moreover, children with disruptive disorders are found to have a higher BMI than subjects without disruptive disorders, and behavioral problems during childhood and early adolescence may be associated with a greater risk to develop overweight and obesity in early adulthood.

Health professionals should identify signs and symptoms of emotional distress in children and adolescents.

American Psychological Association. (2019). Identifying signs of stress in your children and teens.