182045 Association of Overweight and Obesity with Health-Risk Behaviors among US Youth

Monday, October 27, 2008: 9:20 AM

Tilda Farhat, PhD, MPH , Prevention Research Branch, Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Bethesda, MD
Ronald Iannotti, PhD , NICHD, Division of Epidemiology, Statitistics and Prevention Research, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD

Adolescents who are overweight or obese are especially vulnerable to risky behavior, given the high prevalence of social and psychological problems among this group. The purpose of this study is to examine the association between selected adolescent health-risk behaviors (substance-use, violence, bullying) and degree of overweight among US adolescents.


Self-reported height and weight, substance use (cigarette, alcohol, cannabis use), violence (physical fights, weapon-carrying) and bullying (bullying-victim, bullying-perpetrator, bullying-victim/perpetrator) were assessed in a nationally representative sample of students aged 11 to 16 years (n=6,664) who participated in the 2005 Health Behaviors in School-Aged Children survey. African-American and Hispanic students were over-sampled to provide better population estimates. The association between overweight and obesity status, and each of the risk behaviors, was examined using logistic or multinomial regression. Analyses were performed separately for boys and girls. Interactions by age and race were examined.


Overweight and obese girls were significantly more likely than normal-weight girls to smoke, drink and use cannabis. Obese girls were significantly more likely to be bully-victims, bully perpetrators, and to engage in physical fights. For boys, no difference in the association of overweight/obesity with smoking, drunkenness, cannabis use and weapon carrying was noted. Obese boys were more likely to drink and to be bully-victims. Some associations varied by race and age.


Substantial gender differences in the relationship of overweight/obesity with health risk behaviors are noted, with overweight/obese girls experiencing more adverse outcomes than overweight/obese boys.

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify gender differences in the relationship between overweight/obesity and health-risk behaviors. 2. List the health-risk behaviors that are associated with overweight/obesity among girls. 3. Describe variations by race and age in the relationship of overweight/obesity with health-risk behaviors.

Keywords: Adolescent Health, Obesity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Primary responsibility for study design, analysis and write-up
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

See more of: Adolescent Health
See more of: Epidemiology