Depression, Anxiety, and Severity of Obesity in Adolescents: Is Emotional Eating the Link?

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The purposes of this study were to characterize the impact of depression and anxiety on the severity of obesity among youth seeking weight management treatment and to determine the extent to which emotional eating mediates the relationship between depression and/or anxiety and degree of obesity. This cross-sectional, retrospective chart review of 102 adolescent patients from a weight management clinic analyzed demographics, body mass index, depression (Patient Health Questionnaire-9), and anxiety (Generalized Anxiety Disorder Scale-7) screens and the Child Eating Behavior Questionnaire, Emotional Over-Eating subscale. After adjusting for demographics and emotional eating, the odds of having severe obesity versus obesity were 3.5 times higher for patients with depression compared with those without (odds ratio [OR] = 3.5; 95% CI = 1.1, 11.3; P = .038) and nearly 5 times higher for those with anxiety (OR = 4.9; CI = 1.2, 20.9; P = .030). Emotional eating, however, was not a mediator between depression/anxiety and degree of adiposity.

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