ESPE Abstracts (2018) 89 P-P2-155

Associations between Body Fat Mass and Internalizing and Externalizing Behaviors and Anxiety in Children and Adolescents

Eirini Christakia, Despoina Bastakia, Eleni Valavania, Christina Kanaka-Gantenbeina, Dario Boscierob, George Chrousosa & Panagiota Pervanidoua


aNational and Kapodistrian University of Athens, School of Medicine, First Department of Pediatrics, “Aghia Sophia” Children’s Hospital, Athens, Greece; bBiotekna Co, Venice, Italy


Introduction: Body composition analysis is a painless, bloodless and highly informative method of assessing health indicators that can be used extensively in the pediatric population. This is particularly important granted that the prevalence of childhood obesity has been increasing at a fast pace worldwide. Increased adiposity in children and adolescents is an important issue for children’s growth and psychologic development. Assessing the psychosocial status of children and adolescents with excess body fat and providing appropriate cognitive and behavioral therapy may help with the treatment and amelioration of the negative consequences of obesity.

Hypothesis: This study investigates the interrelations between body composition parameters and metabolic and inflammatory biomarkers and the prevalence of internalizing (depression/anxiety, somatic complains and withdrawal) and externalizing (delinquent and aggressive) behaviors reported by parents in a clinical population of obese and overweight children (OC) compared to normal-weight lean children.

Methods: One hundred twenty-one children and adolescents (78 girls and 43 boys) were studied: 40 normal weight (BMI z-scores - 0.1923±0.6), 22 overweight (BMI z-scores 0.922±0.4) and 59 obese (BMI z-score 2.669±1.39) aged 5-15 years old (mean age 8.93±2.23). Physical examination and medical history were obtained by a certified pediatrician. The Anthropometrics were obtained, and body composition analyses were done using an advanced bioimpedance apparatus (BIA-ACC, Biotekna, Venice, Italy). The Child Behavior Checklist questionnaire was completed by parents, whereas the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory for children was completed by the children themselves.

Results: Percent body fat mass (PBFM) correlated positively with externalizing behaviors, such us rule breaking (P=0.027) and aggressiveness (P=0.047). There was a negative correlation between PBFM and social competence (P=0.014) and a positive one between PBFM and thought problems (P=0.011), and conduct (P=0.001), sluggish (P=0.01), and affective behaviors (P=0.017). Moreover, PBFM correlated positively with STAIC scoring (P=0.002). All the above statistical analyses are adjusted for sex and Tanner pubertal stages.

Conclusion: Body fat accumulation in children and adolescents is associated with behavioural, emotional and cognitive problems. Whether the psychosocial state of children is the cause or the consequence of elevated body fat accumulation remains to be answered. This information is important for the design of prevention and intervention strategies for childhood obesity.

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