Being overweight has a significant effect on a child's quality of life

New research indicates that the more a child is overweight, the poorer quality of life that child will experience, though not to the degree reported in a previous study, according to an article in the January 5 issue of JAMA.

The negative effects of childhood overweight and obesity on quality of life (QOL) have been shown in clinical samples, but not yet in population-based community samples. Health-related QOL, as defined by the World Health Organization, includes an individual's physical, mental, and social well-being.

Joanne Williams, Ph.D., of the Royal Children's Hospital and Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues, examined the hypothesis that QOL scores would decrease with increasing weight. The research included data collected in 2000 from the Health of Young Victorians Study, which was commenced in 1997. Individuals were recruited via a random 2-stage sampling design from primary schools in Victoria, Australia. Of the 1,943 children in the original group, 1,569 (80.8 percent) were resurveyed 3 years later at an average age of 10.4 years.

The researchers measured health-related QOL using the PedsQL 4.0, a short survey which assesses physical, emotional, social, and school functioning in a child. The survey was completed by a parent and by child self-report. Summary scores for children's total, physical, and psychosocial health and subscale scores for emotional, social, and school functioning were compared by weight category based on International Obesity Task Force cut points.

Of 1,456 participants, 1,099 (75.5 percent) children were classified as not overweight; 294 (20.2 percent) overweight; and 63 (4.3 percent) obese. The researchers found that the parent and child self-reported PedsQL scores decreased with increasing child weight. At the subscale level, child and parent reported scores were similar, showing decreases in physical and social functioning for obese children compared with

Contact: Joanne Williams, Ph.D.
JAMA and Archives Journals

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