Obesity, Sociodemographic Characteristics, and Quality of Life among a Nationally Representative Sample of Adolescents

Eric Reither, University of Wisconsin at Madison
Karen Swallen, University of Wisconsin at Madison
Ann Meier, University of Minnesota

The prevalence of adolescent obesity has increased substantially over the past two decades, raising concerns about quality of life (QOL) issues. Recent clinically-based observations suggest that obese adolescents are comparable to children with cancer in terms of physical and psychosocial QOL. To validate this claim, we examine the QOL of adolescents in the nationally representative National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Our findings indicate that obese adolescents are more likely than normal weight adolescents to report poor overall health and physical limitations. However, we only find evidence of poor psychosocial QOL among certain subgroups of obese adolescents. For instance, contrary to existing theory, only younger obese adolescents (ages 12-14) exhibited significantly poorer QOL than their non-obese peers. We examine models stratified by gender, race, and social class to further elucidate which groups of obese adolescents are at greatest risk of poor QOL and discuss the implications of these results.

  See paper

Presented in Session 134: Adolescent Health and Obesity in the U.S.