The extent and nature of psychosocial adjustment in obese youth is poorly understood with mixed findings reported in the literature. Scant efforts have been made to examine this dynamic sequence over time with a statistically sound analysis to capture the direction of time-based causal influence as well as growth trajectories of both obesity and adjustment problems. Relatively little information is available about the linkage of dynamic changes of weight status to the developmental course of co-occurring adjustment problems during adolescence. In response to the NICHD program announcement of Secondary Data Analysis Based on NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (SECCYD) (PA-06-284), we propose to conduct a secondary data analysis of the NICHD SECCYD data to investigate time-based causal processes of dynamic changes of weight status and individual and co-occurring domains of psychosocial adjustment just prior to and during the pubertal transition, that is, from 3rd grade (about age 9) to age 15. We apply state of the art and the novel modeling approaches of latent growth curve models and dynamic models of latent difference score to (1) describe the shapes of growth curves for weight status and individual domains of psychosocial adjustment including depression, broad-band behavior problems (i.e. internalizing and externalizing problems) and narrow- band syndrome subscales (i.e. withdrawn, somatic complaints, anxious/depressed, social problems, thought problems, attention problems, delinquent behavior, and aggressive behavior) during the period from 3rd grade (about age nine) to age fifteen;(2) delineate the time-based cross-lagged causal influences of weight status and individual domains of psychosocial adjustment including depression, broad- and narrow-band behavior problems;(3) examine the linkage of dynamic changes of weight status to the development course of co- occurring multiple domains of psychological adjustment;(4) investigate effects of an array of selected possible moderators on the dynamic interrelations between obesity and behavioral problems by comparing growth and changes related to potentially different group dynamics, including characteristics from adolescents themselves (gender, ethnicity, pubertal timing, obesity status and early behavioral problems prior to 3rd grade (about age nine), and growth trajectory patterns of weight status during the transition period from 3rd grade to age 15), family (parental support) and peers (peer support) characteristics. Findings of this study will have the great potential to advance knowledge on associations between obesity and psychosocial adjustment during adolescence, which can be translated into appropriate interventions to address the epidemic of obesity in adolescents.
Over 15% of U.S. adolescents are considered obese. The proposed study will advance our understanding of the dynamic causal sequence of obesity with psychosocial adjustment during pubertal transition, which will have important implication in public health for improving the physical development and mental well-being of adolescents.
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