The link between childhood and adolescent obesity and psychiatric disorders: a review of literature

Greta Bulotaitė1,   Vaiva Būgaitė1, Odeta Kinčinienė2, Sigita Lesinskienė3 

1Faculty of Medicine, Vilnius University, Vilnius, Lithuania

 2Clinic of Children’s Diseases, Faculty of Medicine, Vilnius University

3Clinic of Psychiatry, Institute of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Vilnius University



Childhood and teenage obesity is an important issue, as more and more adolescents become diagnosed with it. Similar tendencies are seen in such pediatric mental disorders as Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression and anxiety. New studies concerning the link between immoderate weight gain and ADHD have shown a statistically significant association. Moreover, results in the female group were more credible. Meta analyses done in order to study adolescent obesity and depression have ascertained a double-sided causality, which was especially evident in girls, however, no reliable link between being overweight and depression was determined. Researchers studying the connection between immoderate weight gain and anxiety have identified an ambiguous relation, which was more potent when assessing anxiety as a symptom of depression.

 Aim: To analyze the associations reviewed in literature between childhood and adolescent excessive weight gain, depression, ADHD and anxiety disorder.


Methods: Pubmed was chosen as the source of literature. Specific keywords such as childhood and adolescent obesity, BMI, ADHD, anxiety disorder and depression were used to find relevant information. A total of 120 articles were carefully reviewed and sifted accordingly to remove articles with indistinguishable information as well as abstracts and titles unrelated to the topic at hand. Either full articles or only their abstracts were analyzed with a final remaining count of 25 suitable articles. Although the criterion to review only articles released in the last 5 years was mostly adhered to, no such restriction was applied to citations.

Keywords: childhood obesity, adolescent obesity, BMI, ADHD, depression, anxiety.