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Is being overweight associated with behavioural problems in childhood and adolescence? Findings from the Mater-University study of pregnancy and its outcomes
  1. D A Lawlor1,
  2. A A Mamun2,
  3. M J O’Callaghan3,
  4. W Bor3,
  5. G M Williams2,
  6. J M Najman2,4
  1. 1Department of Social Medicine, University of Bristol, UK
  2. 2School of Population Health, University of Queensland Medical School, Brisbane, Australia
  3. 3Child Development and Rehabilitation Services, Mater Children’s Hospital, Brisbane, Australia
  4. 4School of Social Science, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr D A Lawlor
    Department of Social Medicine, University of Bristol, Canynge Hall, Whiteladies Road, Bristol BS8 2PR, UK; d.a.lawlorbristol.ac.uk

Abstract

Aims: To examine the associations between being overweight and behavioural problems at ages 5 and 14.

Methods: Birth cohort study of 2875 individuals who were born in Brisbane between 1981 and 1984 and who were followed up at ages 5 and 14 years. Behavioural problems were defined as scoring above the 90th centile on Achenbach’s child behavioural checklist.

Results: In cross-sectional analyses there was no association between being overweight and behavioural problems in either females at age 5. At age 14 females who were overweight were more likely than those who were normal weight to experience behavioural problems. However, there was no association between being overweight and behavioural problems at age 14 among males. The prevalence of behavioural problems increased linearly across the distribution of body mass index in females at age 14. In prospective analyses, among participants who had no behavioural problems at age 5, there was no association between being overweight at age 5 and behavioural problems at age 14 in either sex. Females who were overweight at age 5 and normal weight at age 14 had reduced odds of behavioural problems at age 14.

Conclusions: Among adolescent females there is a positive linear association between body size and behavioural problems. However, no such association was found in adolescent males, or in either sex at age 5 years, and in prospective analyses being overweight at age 5 was not associated with behavioural problems in either sex at age 14.

  • behavioural problems
  • body mass index
  • cohort study
  • overweight
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Footnotes

  • Funding: The core study was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of Australia. This work was funded by the NHMRC (grant number: 252834) and carried out at The University of Queensland and The Mater Hospital. DAL is funded by a (UK) Department of Health Career Scientist Award. The views expressed in the paper are those of the authors and not necessarily those of any funding body.

  • Competing interests: none

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