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A Journal on Pediatrics, Neonatology, Adolescent Medicine,
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

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Minerva Pediatrica 2005 April;57(2):65-72


language: Italian

Depressive symptoms and low self-estreem in obese children and adolescents

Cortese S., Cuzzolaro M., Maffeis C., Piccolo F., Ferrucci G., Tatò L., Pajno-Ferrara F., Dalla Bernardina B.


Aim. The aim of th study was to assess the prevalence of depressive symptoms and low self-esteem (SE) in a clinical sample of obese children and adolescents; to examine whether Body Mass Index (BMI) or age are correlated to scores of depression and SE.
Methods. Fifty-five obese patients, aged 9-16 years, completed 2 questionnaires: the Children's Depression Inventory (CDI) and the Multidimensional Self Concept Scale (MSCS), which assesses global SE and 6 specific domains of SE (Social, Competence, Affect, Academic, Family and Physical).
Results. The prevalence of depressive symptoms and low global SE was not significantly different from normative data of the general pediatric population. The mean overall scores on CDI (8±4.69) and MSCS (96.6±11.54) fell within the normal range (0-19 and 85-115, respectively). The lowest scores in specific domains of MSCS were obtained in Physical SE (94.42±12.64). The scores on questionnaires were not significantly correlated to BMI or age. A significant negative correlation between Physical SE scores and CDI scores was found (r=-0.43; p<0.05).
Conclusions. Obese children and adolescents, as a whole, did not present more depressive symptoms and lower SE than the general pediatric population. However, some obese patients may be at higher risk for psychopathology. In this study, the degree of obesity (BMI), age and sex were not risk factors for psychopathology. The relative low scores on Physical SE and their correlation to CDI scores suggest that body image dissatisfaction may be a risk factor for psychopathology in a subgroup of obese patients.

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