OBJECTIVE: To characterize treatment-seeking young adults (16-25 years) with severe obesity, particularly mental health problems.
STUDY DESIGN AND PARTICIPANTS: Cross-sectional study of 165 participants (132 women, 33 men) with BMI ≥35 kg/m2 or ≥30 kg/m2 with comorbidities, enrolling in a multidisciplinary obesity treatment program.
METHOD: Data collection at admission of present and life-time health issues including symptomatology of anxiety, depression (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (Adult ADHD Self-Report scale); self-esteem (Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale), suicide attempts, health-related quality of life (Short Form-36 Health Survey), psychosocial functioning related to obesity (Obesity-related Problems Scale), cardiorespiratory fitness (Astrand's bicycle ergometer test), somatic and psychiatric co-morbidities, cardiometabolic risk factors, and micronutritional status. We used multiple regression analysis to identify variables independently associated with present anxiety and depressive symptomatology.
RESULTS: Mean body mass index was 39.2 kg/m2 (SD = 5.2). We found evidence of poor mental health, including present psychiatric diagnoses (29%), symptomatology of anxiety (47%), depression (27%) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (37%); low self-esteem (42%), attempted suicide (12%), and low quality of life (physical component score = 46, SD = 11.2; mental component score = 36, SD = 13.9, P<0.001 for difference). Variables independently associated with present anxiety symptomatology (R2 = 0.33, P<0.001) included low self-esteem (P<0.001) and pain (P = 0.003), whereas present depressive symptomatology (R2 = 0.38, P<0.001) was independently associated with low self-esteem (P<0.001), low cardiorespiratory fitness (P = 0.009) and obesity-related problems (P = 0.018). The prevalence of type 2 diabetes was 3%, and hypertension 2%. Insulin resistance was present in 82%, lipid abnormality in 62%, and poor cardiorespiratory fitness in 92%. Forty-eight percent had at least one micronutritional deficiency, vitamin D being the most common (35%).
CONCLUSION: A wide range of health issues, including quite severe mental health problems, was prevalent in treatment-seeking young adults with severe obesity. These are likely to constitute a major treatment challenge, including options relating to bariatric surgery.
2015. Vol. 10, no 12, e0145273