The Relationship Between Weight Status and Emotional and Behavioral Problems in Spanish Preschool Children

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Objective To examine cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between behavioral problems and weight status, considering body mass index (BMI) z-scores and overweight status, in a community sample of preschoolers. Methods The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire and the Diagnostic Interview for Children and Adolescents were administered to 611 parents. Adjusted general linear models and binary logistic regressions were used. Results Children who were overweight and had a higher BMI were at increased risk of peer problems and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms. Prospective analyses showed that a higher BMI at the age of 3 years was predictive of peer problems at ages 4 and 5 years and hyperactivity and ADHD symptoms at the age of 4 years. Conclusion This is the first study using a diagnostic-based instrument that shows a relationship between weight status and ADHD symptoms in preschoolers. Overweight children might benefit from screening for behavioral disorders and peer relationship problems.

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