A recent study showed that as early as grade 1, children with severe obesity were more likely to be socially withdrawn and show signs of depression than their leaner peers.
Researchers from Oklahoma examined data from 1,164 1st graders from 29 rural schools to examine the social and emotional lives of children, who were categorized into four weight groups: severe obesity [BMI ≥ 99%ile], obese [95%ile ≤ BMI < 99%ile], overweight [85%ile ≤ BMI < 95%ile], and non-overweight [5%ile ≤ BMI < 85%ile]).
The more overweight the children were, the worse the emotional and mental health consequences. In addition, children in the severe obesity group reported physical illnesses more frequently, which might be the result of stress and psychological concerns related to their weight.
As the researchers suggested, there is clear value in developing, testing, and disseminating effective strategies that start early in life and involve peers for managing and preventing severe obesity.