The Impact of Depressive Symptomatology on the Efficacy of a Weight Loss Intervention Program in African-American Children and Adolescents




Pop, Radu Bogdan

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Obesity is a widespread issue that has gradually increased in prevalence over the years. Individuals within certain racial or ethnic groups, minority children and adolescents, or youth living within low-income neighborhoods, are at a particularly high risk for the disease. Current research denotes a relationship between obesity and psychopathology, even though the directionality and the factors contributing to this interplay remain debatable. However, in order to develop viable solutions for solving this epidemic, additional factors impacting weight outcomes need to be examined. This study conducted secondary analyses using previously collected data from 206 African-American youth ages 7-18 involved in a weight loss program within a major urban area. It explored the impact of various psychosocial elements, psychological factors, and treatment adherence issues, as potential predictors of weight outcomes. It was aimed to supplement the existing literature by attempting to identify the impact of various factors for African-American youth involved in a weight management program, which could potentially assist in the future development of more specific intervention strategies. Although most of the variables within the primary aims were not found to be predictive of weight loss success, certain sex differences between subjects were observed. Generally, males had overall higher hazard ratios in comparison to female subjects, and were thus more likely to drop out at any time during the study. Additional analyses suggested that older subjects and those with greater average food monitoring lost more weight. A specified target weight loss of 5% or 10% was also examined, and although no factors were predictive of this achievement, approximately 8.7 and 10.6 months were necessary to reach the 5% or 10 % weight loss, with female subjects being more successful in this task. These findings suggest that gender and engagement in food monitoring practices may be important factors for weight loss success for this unique population. In addition, early success in losing weight could also serve an important function, as this might have increased self-efficacy and motivation. However, further research is necessary in this area and the exploration of more culturally relevant interventions could prove to be increasingly beneficial.

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