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Exploring the Association between Internalising Disorders and Obesity in Young Females

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Mason Walker
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Exploring the Association between Internalising Disorders and Obesity in Young Females

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Recent studies have highlighted the pervasive issue of obesity among adolescents and young adults. This health concern is not just about physical wellness but also takes a toll on mental health. Particularly, a concerning association between internalising symptoms and obesity has been observed, especially in adolescent and young adult females. This article delves into the intricate relationship between these two health issues and discusses the confounding familial factors shared by twins in this association.

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The Prevalence of Obesity and Associated Health Outcomes

Obesity is a growing concern worldwide, with an alarming increase in prevalence among adolescents and young adults. It is associated with numerous adverse health outcomes, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers. However, the impact of obesity extends beyond physical health, affecting mental and emotional well-being as well.

Internalising Disorders and Obesity: The Co-occurrence

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Internalising disorders, such as depression and anxiety, are often co-occurring with obesity. This co-occurrence is particularly noticeable during critical periods of adolescence and young adulthood. The simultaneous struggle with mental health issues and obesity can exacerbate the severity of both conditions, making intervention and treatment more complex.

Familial Factors and Their Role in Obesity

Recent research has shed light on the significance of familial factors in determining obesity. Particularly in female adolescents and young adults with internalising symptoms, and those with a family history of these disorders. These shared familial determinants can provide critical insights into the pathways leading to obesity and can be instrumental in designing effective interventions.

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The Impact of COVID-19 on Eating Disorders

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on mental health, including eating disorder features among young females. According to a recent study, females with first onset anorexia nervosa (AN) experienced less eating disorder symptoms at baseline during the pandemic than pre-pandemic AN participants. This could be attributed to less social pressure, fewer peer contacts, and more protective parenting style during the pandemic. However, these participants experienced a less favorable clinical course, evidencing a smaller BMI increase over time. Understanding this impact can facilitate better intervention strategies for adolescents with first onset clinical AN in times of global crises (source).

Depressive Symptoms, Stigmatization, and Weight Concerns among Bariatric Surgery Candidates

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Another recent study has found a strong association between depressive symptoms, stigmatization, weight, and shape concern among bariatric surgery candidates. Notably, weight bias internalization (WBI) was found to mediate the relationship between weight-related experienced stigmatization (ES) and depressive symptoms. This association was found to be stronger in those with high WBI and was further strengthened by weight and shape concern (source). This finding underscores the need for interventions targeting WBI to mitigate the adverse effects of ES on mental health in bariatric surgery candidates.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the association between internalising disorders and obesity, particularly in adolescent and young adult females, is a multifaceted issue that requires holistic approaches for effective intervention. It is crucial to consider genetic and environmental factors in this association for interventions targeting behavior change. Furthermore, recognizing and addressing the shared familial determinants of obesity can lead to more effective and targeted interventions, ultimately improving the health outcomes of this vulnerable population.

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