Understanding psychological implications affecting children of differing Body Mass Index
Shearer, Clare Anne
Objectives: This thesis aims to further our understanding in relation to childhood obesity and associated psychological difficulties. Design: The systematic review aimed to investigate the relationship between childhood psychological functioning in overweight and obese children and parental mental health difficulties. The empirical study aimed to examine possible relationships between Body Mass Index (BMI), self-esteem, quality of life and resilience, in order to determine any factors which may protect against the negative psychological consequences of obesity. Methods: A systematic review was completed using a comprehensive literature search of relevant databases to identify studies examining the relationship between childhood psychological functioning in children who were deemed overweight or obese and parental mental health difficulties. In the empirical study children of a variety of differing Body Mass Indexes (BMI) were asked to complete measures of quality of life, resilience and self-esteem. Correlation analyses were carried out to determine any relationships between BMI, quality of life, resilience and self-esteem. Moderation analyses were then completed to examine whether resilience moderates the relationship between BMI and quality of life or between BMI and self-esteem. Results: Ten studies met inclusion criteria for the systematic review. Although the reviews appeared to indicate a significant relationship between parental mental health and childhood psychological functioning, the studies were predominantly of average or low methodological quality, weakening any conclusions drawn. Results of the empirical study indicated significant correlations between resilience and quality of life and resilience and self-esteem. BMI was not found to significantly correlate with any other factors. Further moderation analyses indicated no moderating effect for resilience. The lack of association between BMI and either quality of life or self-esteem may in part be because most children who took part were of normal weight. Conclusions: Interventions targeting childhood overweight/obesity and their psychological effects may need to take into account wider psychosocial factors including parenting and positive factors which may protect against the negative psychological effects of obesity. However, further research is needed, particularly in relation to resilience.