For the study, the researchers used the 2007 National Survey of Children's Health, analyzing data on nearly 43,300 children between the ages 10 and 17. They assessed associations between weight status and 21 indicators of general health, psychosocial functioning and specific health disorders, adjusting for sociodemographic factors.
Of the children in the study, 15 percent were considered overweight (a body mass index between the 85th and 95th percentiles), and 16 percent were obese (a BMI in the 95th percentile or higher).
The study, which is currently available online, will be published in the JanuaryFebruary print issue of the journal Academic Pediatrics.
The UCLA researchers speculate that the ongoing shift in chronic childhood conditions is likely related to decades of underappreciated changes in the social and physical environments in which children live, learn and play. They propose that obesity-prevention efforts should target these social and environmental influences and that kids should be screened and managed for the co-morbid conditions.
The researchers add that while the strength of the current study lies in its large population base, future studies need to examine better longitudinal data to tease out causal relationships that cannot be inferred from a cross-sectional study.
"Obesity might be causing the co-morbidity, or perhaps the co-morbidity is causing obesity or both might be caused by some other unmeasured third factor," Halfon said. "For example, exposure to toxic stress might change the neuroregulatory processes that affect impulse control seen in ADHD, as
|Contact: Amy Albin |
University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences