Negative impacts of obesity more among boys than girls: Study

Last Updated: Thursday, February 21, 2013 - 15:29

Melbourne: A new Australian study has found obese boys have a significantly lower than average quality of life and excess weight amongst teens, particularly in boys, appeared to be associated with decreased life satisfaction.

The study, published in American Journal of Adolescent Health by researchers from Sydney`s Westmead Millennium Institute (WMI), said the results were surprising to find "negative psycho-social impacts of obesity were greater on teenage boys than upon teenage girls".

"The findings suggest that an unhealthy weight status and excess body fat could negatively impact on the mental and physical wellbeing of adolescents, particularly in boys," the lead author of the study Bamini Gopinath said yesterday.

"The findings highlight the value of assessing quality of life among adolescents with excess weight in both clinical practice and research studies."

"Girls in this study who were either overweight or obese did not have significantly different quality of life scores compared to normal-weight girls," said Gopinath.

Gopinath, a senior research fellow at WMI, said the reasons for the difference were unknown, but she speculated it might be because of the importance of sport to boys.

"If obesity is limiting their participation in sport, it might negatively affect their social functioning and/or physical functioning, both of which are measured as part of the total score."

The researchers found the quality of life (QOL) score improved for previously overweight boys and girls who lost weight to fit into the normal weight range.

The start of the study, in 2004-2005, involved 1,688 teenage schoolchildren attending 21 randomly chosen Sydney schools.

When the study began, the children had an average age of 12.7 and they were measured for height, weight, Body Mass Index, percentage of body fat and waist circumference and categorised into five ethnic groups.

At the five-year follow-up, in 2009-2011, the teenagers were aged 17-18.

The researchers repeated the physical measurements and also used a questionnaire to assess their QOL.

That questionnaire provided three summary scores; a total QOL score, a physical health score and a psycho-social health summary score.

The researchers also studied how QOL scores changed for teens over the five-year span if they went from being overweight or obese to being of normal weight.

The researchers also found that youngsters of either sex who lost weight and went from being either overweight or obese into the normal weight range improved with regard to QOL.

The research findings are sourced from the Sydney Childhood Eye Study which is a population-based survey of eye conditions and a range of other health outcomes in schoolchildren living in the Sydney Metro region.


First Published: Thursday, February 21, 2013 - 15:29

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