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Psychiatric disorders and symptom severity in referred versus non-referred overweight children and adolescents


Vlierberghe, Leen van; Braet, Caroline; Goossens, Lien; Mels, Saskia


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Abstract Background: This study aimed firstly to investigate whether youngsters referred for overweight treatment differ from non-referred overweight youngsters on the prevalence of psychiatric disorders and psychological symptoms. Secondly, the potentially moderating role of age, gender, socio-economic status and degree of overweight in the association of referral status and mental disorder in overweight youth was explored. Methods: Participants were 155 overweight youngsters enrolled in an obesity treatment programme (mean age = 13.76; mean BMI  = 33.99) and 73 non-referred overweight youngsters (mean age = 13.74; mean BMI  = 27.35). The Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV-Childhood version and the Child version of the Eating Disorder Examination were administered and participants filled out the Children’s Depression Inventory, the Spence Children’s Anxiety Scale and the Youth Self Report. Parents were asked to complete the Child Behavior Checklist. Results: In the referred group 37.50% and in the non-referred group 23.29% of the participants met criteria for at least one mental disorder. In both groups, anxiety disorders were most prominent. Overall, a higher prevalence of mental disorders was found in the referred group. Referred youth displayed significantly more ‘full blown’ eating disorders and binge eating than non-referred youngsters and exhibited a significantly greater severity of self- and parent-reported internalizing symptoms. Referral was also associated with a significantly higher degree of overweight and significantly lower SES. After controlling for these pre-existing differences in degree of overweight and SES, only the greater severity of parent-reported internalizing symptoms in referred youth remained significant. Older age was generally predictive for the presence of mental disorders and in the non-referred group SES was positively associated with psychiatric disorder. Conclusions: A substantial proportion of overweight youngsters suffer from mental disorders. Referral status and age are associated with the presence of psychopathology. However, differences between referred and non-referred youngsters are not as pronounced as expected on the basis of earlier research in the field.
Klassifikation psychologische Diagnostik und Beratung, psychologische Methoden; psychische Störungen, Behandlung und Prävention
Freie Schlagwörter referral status; overweight; psychopathology; youth
Sprache Dokument Englisch
Publikationsjahr 2008
Seitenangabe S. 164-173
Zeitschriftentitel European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 18 (2008) 3
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00787-008-0717-5
Status Veröffentlichungsversion; begutachtet (peer reviewed)
Lizenz PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)