Objective: Recent literature has documented the psychosocial consequences of pediatric obesity, including poor health-related quality of life (HRQOL). The present study examines HRQOL and its association with depressive symptoms and perceived social support in African-American and white youth pursuing weight management treatment.
Research Methods and Procedures: Study participants were 166 obese youth (mean = 12.7 years, 70% females, 57% African American, mean BMI = 37.0) referred to a pediatric weight management program. Parents of participants completed a demographics form and the parent-proxy Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory (PedsQL). Youth completed the Children's Depression Inventory, PedsQL, and Perceived Social Support Scale for Children.
Results: HRQOL scores were quite impaired relative to published norms on healthy youth (p < 0.001). Approximately 11% of the sample met criteria for clinically significant depressive symptoms. Simultaneous regression analyses revealed that depressive symptoms, perceived social support from classmates, degree of overweight, and socioeconomic status seem to be strong predictors of HRQOL.
Discussion: Obesity has a clear impact on HRQOL regardless of respondent (e.g., parent, youth) or racial group. It is likely that assessing and treating depressive symptoms and fostering social support in the context of pediatric intervention have implications for both improved HRQOL and weight management outcomes.