Is obesity and depression among your child interlinked?


Did you know that obesity and depression are two major child health problems? Well, you should know that both obesity and depression are very prevalent and associated with numerous health complications, including hypertension, coronary heart disease, and increased mortality. Read on to know more about the link between childhood obesity and depression, diagnoses of childhood obesity and depression, and similarities in the presentation of childhood obesity and depression.

The link between childhood obesity and depression

Body Mass Index (BMI) is the most common factor linked to body dissatisfaction. Body dissatisfaction facilitated the link between obesity and negative self-esteem. Obesity often leads to teasing which, in turn, might cause depression in obese children, who consequently experience amplified dissatisfaction with their appearance. Also, obese children are more prone to have body dissatisfaction, which might lead to depression and lower self-esteem. Increased inflammation and altered stress system might be a common link between obesity and depression.

Diagnoses of childhood obesity and depression

Obesity and depression are diagnosed differently in children compared to adults. Depression criteria include depressed mood, fatigue, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, thoughts of death, as well as changes in sleep and appetite. There are two differences in how depression is diagnosed in children compared with adults. The mood might be irritable, instead of depressed, and children might meet symptom criteria if they fail to make expected gains in growth rather than experience weight loss from decreased appetite. In younger children, diagnosis is challenging because of difficulty provoking adopting symptoms like feelings of hopelessness or guilt.

Similarities in the presentation of childhood obesity and depression

Those meeting the diagnostic criteria for depression are a varied population with differences in individual symptoms as well as differences in combinations of symptoms. Let’s have a look at specific depression symptoms that might serve as links between childhood obesity and depression.

  • Sleep

Sleep problems are prominent and difficult to treat feature of childhood depression. Children with depression have prolonged sleep latency compared with non-depressed children. Prolonged sleep latency is important because it is associated with an increased risk of depression recurrence among children. In children with major depressive disorder, insomnia is associated with active suicidal thoughts.

Obesity, too, has connections to sleep problems. Overweight children are at increased risk for sleep apnea and obesity hypoventilation syndrome, which are associated with daytime somnolence and decreased nighttime sleep. Insomnia is also associated with increased suicidal thoughts in depressed children. Sleep is an appealing target for both depression and obesity interventions.

  • Inactive behavior

A core feature of depression is decreased interest and motivation for the activity. Lack of activity does not need to cause weight gain to have an adverse effect on metabolism. Increased inactive behavior might also contribute to worsening depression and obesity, as well as directly link these two conditions. Depression might cause increased inactive activity secondary to depressed mood, fatigue, and decreased motivation. The combination of decreased physical activity and increased appetite can lead to unhealthy weight gain. Thoughts, mood, and behavior are linked conceptually in the cognitive-behavioral model of depression. Inactivity is a cause of obesity. Depression might be a cause of inactivity and therefore promote obesity.


Stressful life events like peer persecution and weight-based teasing might physically predispose children to depression and might be a factor that leads to depression in obese children. The importance of recognizing these pathways and factors is to know when to intervene to prevent depression in obese children. Understanding the developmental sequence of factors that influence the risk of these conditions is critical for planning timing and targets for prevention. It is strongly recommended to visit your nearby homeopathy clinic as soon as you notice symptoms and seek obesity and depression treatment.