IN THIS ISSUE
Combination Behavior/Drug Therapy Tested To Treat Teen Obesity
Genetic Mutation Associated With Binge Eating
NIH, NIDDK Act To Coordinate Obesity Research
Sisters Are Moving With Sisters Together: Move More, Eat Better
NDEP Releases GAME PLAN Diabetes Prevention Toolkit
NIH Launches Worksite Wellness Lectures
New and Updated WIN Publications
As the rates of childhood obesity rise, so too do the rates of related physical disorders such as type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea. But the more widespread psychosocial effects of childhood obesity often go unaddressed by pediatricians. A new study measured the health-related quality of life of children and adolescents who are severely obese.
Health-related quality of life (QOL) includes physical, emotional, social, and school functioning. Researchers theorized that obese children and adolescents would experience a lower QOL than healthy children and adolescents, just as youngsters with chronic health conditions do. They administered a pediatric QOL inventory to 106 children and adolescents between 5 and 18 years old who were under evaluation for obesity. For comparison, QOL measures for healthy 5- to 18-year-olds and for youth diagnosed with cancer and undergoing chemotherapy were examined.
obese children and adolescents were 5.5 times more likely to have impaired
health-related QOL than their healthy peers, similar to children and adolescents
with cancer. Although 65 percent of the study participants had one or
more obesity-related conditions, their scores paralleled those of participants
without these conditions, indicating that the psychosocial aspects of
obesity may have more effect on QOL than physical impairment. Likewise,
demographic variables including age, sex, socioeconomic status, and race
did not affect QOL scores.
In addition to further research in this area, the authors recommend that physicians, parents, and teachers be alert to the possibility of impaired psychosocial functioning among youth who are obese.
The researchers observed that although children and adolescents who are obese may experience physical limitations and teasing from peers, as may youth with cancer, they do not experience the intense medical treatment and resulting adverse affects that young cancer patients do. Nevertheless, their QOL scores were as low as those of children and adolescents undergoing chemotherapy.
The study authors acknowledge that their findings apply to severely obese children and adolescents undergoing clinical evaluation, and are not necessarily applicable to youth with lesser degrees of obesity or those not seeking evaluation or treatment. In addition to further research in this area, the authors recommend that physicians, parents, and teachers be alert to the possibility of impaired psychosocial functioning among youth who are obese. They further propose that future research into the treatment of childhood obesity look not only at weight status but also at health-related quality of life.
The full report of this study appears in the April 9, 2003 Journal of the American Medical Association. s
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