Could obesity mediate psychopathology and suicidal ideation in adolescents? An Egyptian study


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Abstract

IntroductionAdolescence is a critical developmental phase characterized by intense physical and psychological changes. Physical changes and increased body weight are important preoccupations of adolescents and may predispose them to mental health consequences. Moreover, suicide is the third leading cause of death among adolescents. In Egypt, increasing rates of overweight and obesity in children and adolescents have become a public health concern. Numerous studies have investigated the causes of adolescent suicidal ideation. However, the relationship between obesity and suicidal ideation and behaviour is not well-understood, and conventional suicide risk factors do not adequately explain the associations observed.Aim of workThe current study aimed to examine the relationship between obesity and suicidal ideation in a sample of Egyptian adolescents as well as potential psychopathological mechanisms of this relationship.Patients and methodsFifty adolescents with obesity (BMI≥95th percentile) and 50 healthy normal-weight adolescents were evaluated for body weight (kg), height (m) and BMI. Psychological assessment included Symptom Checklist 90 Revised, Beck Depression Inventory, Beck Anxiety Inventory, Beck Suicide Ideation Inventory, Body Shape Questionnaire and Rosenberg Self Esteem Scale.ResultsThere was a statistically significant difference between the two groups as regards depression and anxiety as measured by the Symptom Checklist 90 Revised, Beck Depression Inventory II and Beck Anxiety Inventory (P<0.05). There was a statistically significant difference between the two groups as regards the body image satisfaction, self-esteem and suicidal risk as measured by Body Shape Questionnaire-14, Rosenberg Self Esteem Scale and Beck Suicide Ideation Inventory, respectively (P<0.05). There was a statistically significant positive correlation between BMI and depression severity, anxiety and body image dissatisfaction (P<0.05) and a statistically significant negative correlation between BMI and self-esteem in adolescents with obesity (P<0.05).ConclusionThis study concludes that obese adolescents have more anxiety and depressive symptoms, less body image satisfaction and lower self-esteem when compared with normal-weight adolescents. Obese adolescents are also more prone to suicidal ideation and behaviour. Possible factors that may explain the risk for suicide in the population of study are disturbed body image and the low self-esteem.

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