Among overweight and obese youths, rates of depression, anxiety disorders, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) are elevated. We analyze whether these emotional and behavioral problems are associated with specifically disordered eating pattern.
Participants in the study were 128 overweight and obese children/adolescents (BMI: m = 29.3, s = 4.5; BMI-SDS: m = 2.5, s = 0.4) between 8 and 15 years. Structured psychiatric assessments were conducted adopting a multimethod, multiinformant approach.
Children/adolescents with ODD symptoms showed increased eating in response to external cues and binge eating. ADHD symptoms were not associated with disordered eating behaviors. Children/adolescents with symptoms of depression and anxiety showed emotional and binge eating. In particular, overweight girls with symptoms of depression showed restrained eating.
Our results point to specific eating problems in overweight/obese children with ODD and depression/anxiety symptoms. The findings could help to tailor interventions to optimally meet the specific needs of overweight children with emotional and behavioral problems. © 2012 by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. (Int J Eat Disord 2013)