The Long-Arm of Adolescent Weight Status on Later Life Depressive Symptoms

Melissa L. Martinson, University of Washington
Sarinnapha Vasunilashorn, Harvard University

Given the increase in worldwide obesity among children and adolescents, the long-term consequences of childhood obesity on the risk of adverse health outcomes in later life has garnered increasing attention. Much of this work on earlier life weight status and later life health has focused on cardiovascular-related outcomes in mid to late-adulthood; however, little is known of the later life mental health consequences of adolescent body weight. We use the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study to characterize the relationship between standardized relative body mass ascertained from high school photograph portraits in 1957 and depressive symptoms from the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale in 2004. Women who were overweight in adolescence were significantly more likely to experience depressive symptoms in later adulthood than their normal weight counterparts. This relationship was not observed among men. These findings provide further evidence for the wide range of long-term consequences of adolescent overweight on later life wellbeing.

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Presented in Poster Session 6: Population Aging; Gender, Race and Ethnicity