B4407 - Prospective relationship between emotional risk factors and development of overweight/obesity in adolescents and young adults - 11/09/2023

B number: 
Principal applicant name: 
Nadia Micali | Eating Disorders research unit, Psychiatric Center Ballerup (Denmark)
Fernando Fernández-Aranda, Elena Jansen, Anna Victoria Brieva-Toloza, Bilal Hassan Ashraf
Title of project: 
Prospective relationship between emotional risk factors and development of overweight/obesity in adolescents and young adults
Proposal summary: 

Overweight and obesity are common and can have debilitating physical and mental health consequences. Overweight and obesity can start in early childhood and track throughout adolescence and adulthood. While effective treatment and prevention is still lacking, increasing our understanding of contributing factors is invaluable in designing better interventions.
Connections between mental states and obesity are well known. However, a large number of studies have focused on the role of depression in weight development while other factors that reflect vulnerabilities based on emotional symptoms have less frequently been examined. Additionally, few studies have longitudinal data that tracks participants throughout different developmental stages, including childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood.
Adolescents who are overweight are more likely to resort to unhealthy disordered eating behaviors such as skipping meals, extreme dieting, and purging through vomiting. Other disordered eating symptoms include concerns about shape and weight, weight control methods and binge eating. Disordered eating attitudes and behaviors can have detrimental effects on dietary quality, weight gain, development of obesity over an extended period, increased risk of depression, and also a higher likelihood of developing eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or binge eating disorder. While there likely is a bidirectional relationship between weight development and disordered eating, the progression to development of obesity and eating disorders throughout childhood, adolescence and young adulthood is currently unknown.
This study aims to identify developmental trajectories of emotional risk factors, disordered eating, as well as body weight and examine which pathways of emotional risk factors and disordered eating are associated with later development of overweight or obesity.
Besides the focus on children’s emotional risk factors, this study also aims to examine the role of maternal psychological factors in relation to disordered eating and body weight throughout the first 3 decades of life.
This study will be fundamental in starting to understand new risk mechanisms for adolescent and
young adult overweight/obesity that can be further investigated in intervention studies following this project.

Impact of research: 
This study will bring together a focus on a range of potential predictors of the development of overweight and obesity throughout the first 3 decades of life. These included emotional risk factors and disordered eating behaviors in the child but also comprise psychological risk factors of the mother. As such, the findings will provide a unique understanding of prospective relationships across the individual and family level.
Date proposal received: 
Tuesday, 29 August, 2023
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 11 September, 2023
Mental health - Psychology, Psychiatry, Cognition, Behaviour - e.g. antisocial behaviour, risk behaviour, etc., Eating disorders - anorexia, bulimia, Mental health, Obesity, Statistical methods, BMI, Development, Growth, Psychology - personality