To explore the influence of 1-year changes in child obesity and maternal psychopathology on changes in child psychological problems.
Hierarchical regression models were used to predict child psychological change, with demographic variables, maternal psychological change, and child percentage overweight change as predictors.
Pediatric obesity research clinic.
Clinic sample of 116 obese 8- to 12-year-old children and their mothers.
Family-based behavioral weight-control program.
Main Outcome Measures
Child psychopathology was assessed via mother-reported Child Behavior Checklists and maternal psychopathology was determined by standardizing scores on the Cornell Medical Index and the Symptoms Checklist-90–Revised.
Significant improvements were observed in child percentage overweight (−20.1% overweight), and child and maternal psychopathology. Improved maternal psychopathology accounted for a significant amount of variance in improvements in the Child Behavior Checklist total Problems Scale and internalizing and externalizing problems subscales. Decreased obesity accounted for a significant amount of variance in improvements in the Total Competence scale and, somatic complaints, social problems and social competence subscales of the Child Behavior Checklist. Significant interactions of child obesity change by sex were found for Total Problems and externalizing scores. The interactions were due to girls with greater obesity reduction showing greater improvement in Total Problems, whereas boys with greater obesity reduction showed less improvement in externalizing problems.
These results highlight the multidimensional nature of psychosocial functioning in obese children and call attention to multiple avenues for intervention to improve their psychosocial functioning.