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J Pediatr Health Care. 2006 Nov-Dec;20(6):401-6.

Mental health correlates of healthy lifestyle attitudes, beliefs, choices, and behaviors in overweight adolescents.

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Arizona State University College of Nursing, Tempe, Ariz 85287-2602, USA. <>



A tripling in the number of overweight adolescents has occurred during the past two decades, with type 2 diabetes reaching epidemic proportions. Although obesity has been identified as a correlate of depression and low self-esteem in adolescents, the relationships among key cognitive/mental health variables and healthy attitudes, beliefs, choices, and behaviors in overweight teens have yet to be explored. Therefore, the aim of this study was to describe these relationships so that an effective intervention program to promote and sustain healthy lifestyle behaviors could be implemented.


A descriptive correlational study was conducted with 23 overweight teens. Key variables measured included depressive symptoms, state and trait anxiety, self-esteem, beliefs/confidence about engaging in a healthy lifestyle, perceived difficulty in leading a healthy lifestyle, and healthy attitudes, choices, and behaviors.


Teens with higher state and trait anxiety as well as depressive symptoms had less healthy lifestyle beliefs, and teens with higher self-esteem had stronger beliefs about their ability to engage in a healthy lifestyle. Stronger beliefs about the ability to engage in healthy lifestyles were related to healthier living attitudes and healthier lifestyle choices. Teens who perceived healthy lifestyles as more difficult had less healthy attitudes and reported less healthier choices and behaviors.


Including a strong cognitive behavioral skills building component into clinical interventions with overweight teens may be key in boosting their beliefs/confidence about being able to engage in healthy behaviors and lessening their perceived difficulty in performing them, which should result in healthier choices and lifestyle behaviors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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