Student Scholar Symposium Abstracts and Posters

Document Type

Chapman access only poster or presentation

Publication Date

Spring 2018

Faculty Advisor(s)

Dr. Steven Schandler


One in five children between the ages of 6 and 19 are obese, displaying a Body Mass Index above the 85thpercentile of children within their age range. Epidemiological research shows that obesity leads to degenerative disorders such as heart disease and diabetes, especially when excess body fat stores begin at a young age. Etiological research has indicated that psychological factors play a prominent role in the cause of childhood obesity. A psychological factor particularly prevalent is childhood depression, of which, one consistent behavior is reduced eating control. Recent research proposes a relationship between depressive symptoms and a loss of controlled eating, which can lead to obesity. The purpose of this thesis research was to systematically evaluate this proposal by testing the hypothesis that a child diagnosed with depression is more likely to develop obesity than a child whom is not diagnosed with depression.

Using meta-analytical research methods, the thesis systematically located and evaluated empirical investigations of childhood obesity and depression. Overall, the findings supported the thesis hypothesis, demonstrating a direct relationship between the development of childhood depression and obesity. However, methodology weaknesses of some studies produced a lack of clarity as to whether depression was the cause or the result of obesity.

Further research is necessary to definitively determine the role of depression as a cause of childhood obesity. If depression is found to be a causative factor, then psychological practices for children can be refined and more aggressively applied to identify and treat childhood depression before the development of the eating behaviors that lead to obesity.


Presented at the Spring 2018 Student Research Day at Chapman University.

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