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Am J Public Health. 1997 Aug;87(8):1303-10.

Psychiatric symptoms in adolescence as predictors of obesity in early adulthood: a longitudinal study.

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  • 1Division of Child Psychiatry, New York State Psychiatric Institute, NY 10032, USA.



This study examined the longitudinal relationship between psychopathology and obesity in young adulthood.


More than 700 youth in a population-based sample were psychiatrically assessed in 1983 (mean age = 14 years) and 1992 (mean age = 22 years). Self-reported body mass index (BMI) in 1992 was regressed on measures of depression and conduct disorder as well as a set of covariates including indices of physical health, social class, intelligence, and cigarette and alcohol use. Associations were examined with BMI treated as a continuous variable and with a binary index of obesity derived from the BMI distribution in each gender.


BMI in young adults was positively related to a number of covariates. With all covariates controlled, BMI was inversely related to adult depressive symptoms in males but not females. BMI was positively related to adolescent symptoms of conduct disorder in both sexes. Similar associations were found between psychiatric symptoms and obesity.


Conduct disorder symptoms in adolescence predicted BMI and obesity in early adulthood. These associations remained after controlling for factors that can affect the association between psychopathology and obesity.

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