Clinical characteristics and outcomes of children, adolescents and young adults with overweight or obesity and mental health disorders

Angela Galler, Angelika Tönnes, Jens Joas, Christine Joisten, Antje Körner, Thomas Reinehr, Markus Röbl, Gerd Schauerte, Wolfgang Siegfried, Daniel Weghuber, Susann Weihrauch-Blüher, Susanna Wiegand, Reinhard W. Holl, Nicole Prinz, APV Inititative

Publication: Contribution to journalJournal articlesResearchpeer-review


Background: Mental disorders are important comorbidities in youth with obesity. Aim was to describe the clinical characteristics and outcome of youth with overweight or obesity having comorbid mental disorders. Methods: Data from children, adolescents, and young adults (age 6–30 years) with overweight or obesity and mental disorders (depression, anxiety disorder, eating disorder, attention deficit disorder (ADHD)) from 226 centers in Germany and Austria participating in the Adiposity Patient Registry (APV) were analyzed and compared with those without reported mental disorders using regression modeling. Results: Mental health comorbidity was reported in a total of 3969 out of 114,248 individuals with overweight or obesity: 42.5% had ADHD, 31.3% anxiety disorders, 24.3% depression, and 12.9% eating disorders. Being male (OR 1.39 (95%CI 1.27;1.52)), of older age (1.42 (1.25;1.62)), or with extreme obesity (1.45 (1.30;1.63)) were most strongly associated with mental health comorbidity. Regression analysis showed that mean BMI-SDS was significantly higher in the group of individuals with depression and eating disorders (BMI-SDS 2.13 (lower; upper mean:2.09;2.16) and 2.22 (2.17;2.26)) compared to those without reported mental health comorbidity (BMI-SDS 2.008 (2.005;2.011); p < 0.001). In youth with ADHD, BMI-SDS was lower compared to those without reported mental disorders (BMI-SDS 1.91 (1.89;1.93) vs 2.008 (2.005;2.011); p < 0.001). Proportion of severe obesity was higher in individuals with depression (23.7%), anxiety disorders (17.8%), and eating disorders (33.3%), but lower in ADHD (10.3%), compared to those without reported mental disorders (13.5%, p < 0.002). Proportions of dyslipidaemia and abnormal carbohydrate metabolism were not different in youth with and without reported mental health comorbidity. BMI-SDS change after one year of lifestyle intervention program ranged between −0.22 and −0.16 and was similar in youth without and with different mental disorders. Conclusion: Health care professionals caring for youth with overweight or obesity should be aware of comorbid mental disorders and regular mental health screening should be considered.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)423-432
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 09.01.2024

Research areas and keywords

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity/complications
  • Child
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Obesity, Morbid/complications
  • Obesity/complications
  • Overweight/complications
  • Young Adult