Body dissatisfaction at age 11 may increase depression risk by age 14


Physique dissatisfaction at age 11 is linked to elevated threat of despair by age 14, finds a brand new longitudinal research led by UCL researchers.

The findings, printed in The Lancet Psychiatry, present that physique picture issues clarify a big proportion of an affiliation between physique mass index (BMI) and despair in youngsters, notably in women.

The research, supported by Wellcome, concerned 13,135 members of the Millennium Cohort Examine, a UCL-led nationally consultant start cohort research of individuals born between 2000 and 2002.

The researchers discovered that top BMI at age seven was linked with elevated depressive signs (which might embrace low temper, lack of pleasure and poor focus) by age 14, in addition to with larger physique dissatisfaction at age 11.

They discovered that physique dissatisfaction was a serious contributor to the hyperlink between BMI at age seven and subsequent depressive signs, explaining 43% of the affiliation.

All three of those associations have been twice as massive in women in comparison with boys.

Despair has turn out to be extra frequent amongst younger individuals, as have having an chubby BMI, and physique dissatisfaction.

Right here we’ve discovered robust longitudinal proof {that a} excessive BMI in childhood is linked with an elevated threat of depressive signs a number of years later.

However we have been notably involved in how a lot physique dissatisfaction may be the motive force of this hyperlink. We discovered robust proof that being sad with one’s look is linked with elevated depressive signs years later. Our findings recommend that any efforts to cut back weight in childhood want to contemplate their potential psychological well being impacts, in order that we will keep away from stigmatising weight and as a substitute help youngsters’s psychological well being and wellbeing.”

Dr Francesca Solmi, Lead Writer, UCL Psychiatry

The analysis didn’t cowl what different elements, moreover physique dissatisfaction, may clarify why youngsters with excessive BMI usually tend to develop depressive signs, however they are saying that different organic (as an example irritation) or environmental (as an example bullying) pathways would possibly clarify a part of the affiliation.

First writer Emma Blundell, trainee medical psychologist at UCL Psychology & Language Sciences, mentioned: “Many public well being methods search to cut back weight in childhood. Main college youngsters are being taught concerning the significance of energy and train, and all younger individuals in England are being weighed in school to find out whether or not weight reduction efforts are wanted. While selling nutritious diet and train is vital, it could be that some public well being messaging may very well be fostering emotions of guilt or disgrace.

“You will need to be sure that any interventions to cut back BMI in childhood don’t inadvertently improve physique dissatisfaction and hurt youngsters’s psychological well being.”

The researchers say that some methods to focus on physique picture issues in early adolescence have been developed, resembling with psychological interventions or media literacy coaching that would handle shallowness, social comparisons, and social media influences, however extra analysis is required to extra successfully sort out physique picture issues in younger individuals.

Dr Solmi added: “Decreasing physique dissatisfaction in younger individuals may very well be an vital means of stopping despair, notably in women, at ages when social environments and peer relations turn out to be more and more impactful.”

The research moreover concerned researchers within the UCL Nice Ormond Avenue Institute of Youngster Well being, the UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Well being Care, MRC Unit for Lifelong Well being & Ageing at UCL, and Imperial School London. The Millennium Cohort Examine is predicated on the UCL Centre for Longitudinal Research, within the IOE, UCL’s School of Training & Society.


Journal reference:

Blundell, E., et al. (2023) Longitudinal pathways between childhood BMI, physique dissatisfaction, and adolescent despair: an observational research utilizing the UK Millenium Cohort Examine. The Lancet Psychiatry.

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