Depressive symptoms are associated with excess weight and unhealthier lifestyle behaviors in urban adolescents

Fiorella Castillo, Lori Francis, Judith Wylie-Rosett, Carmen R. Isasi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations


Background: Adolescence is a critical period for the development of depressive symptoms and obesity. This study examined the association of depressive symptoms with standardized BMI (BMI z-score), lifestyle behaviors, and self-efficacy measures in a sample of urban adolescents.

Methods: A school-based study was conducted among adolescents (N=1508) enrolled from 11 public schools. Depressive symptoms were assessed with Kandel's depressive symptoms scale for adolescents. Fruit and vegetable intake and intake of energy-dense foods were assessed by a short food frequency questionnaire. Sedentary behavior and physical activity (PA) were obtained by self-report. Height and weight were measured directly and BMI z-scores were calculated. Mixed-effects models were used to examine the association of depressive symptoms with BMI z-score and lifestyle behaviors, accounting for clustering at school level and adjusting for confounders. Self-efficacy measures were evaluated as potential mediators.

Results: The sample was 53% female, 75% Hispanic, and 82% US born, with a mean age of 13.9 years. Higher depressive symptoms were associated with higher BMI z-score (β=0.02; p=0.02), intake of energy-dense foods (β=0.42; p<0.001), and sedentary behavior (β=0.48; p<0.001), but lower PA (β=-0.03; p=0.01). There was an interaction by gender in the association of depressive symptoms and PA. Self-efficacy mediated the association of depressive symptoms and PA.

Conclusions: Obesity prevention and treatment programs should consider addressing the role of negative emotions as part of their preventive strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)400-407
Number of pages8
JournalChildhood Obesity
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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