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Implications of excess weight on mental wellbeing

journal contribution
posted on 2017-12-06, 00:00 authored by Jodie MorrisJodie Morris, Stefan KoehnStefan Koehn, Brenda Happell, Trudy DwyerTrudy Dwyer, Lorna MoxhamLorna Moxham
Objective. To assess differences in perceived health-related quality of life among individuals who are normal weight,overweight and obese in the general population, with particular emphasis on mental health. Method. A cross-sectional study was conducted among the general adult population in Queensland, Australia. Participants (n = 1212) were selected randomly for computer-assisted telephone interview in July 2007. The sample ranged between 18 and 93 years, with a mean age of 51.10 years (s.d. = 15.92). Demographic and physical and mental health (SF-12)data were collected. Self-reported height and weight were used to classify participants into three groups based on their bodymass index: normal weight; overweight; obese. The associations between body mass index categories and SF-12 scores were investigated. Results. In this population sample, excess weight was associated with poorer physical health. In addition, significant associations were observed between excess weight and poor mental health for particular age groups. Obesity had a significant association with poor mental wellbeing for individuals who are aged 45 to 54 years. No sex differences were observed. Conclusion. The results provide additional evidence of the relationship between excess weight and mental wellbeing and highlight the need for health professionals to be cognisant of the potential for individuals who are obese to have a higher risk of experiencing mental health problems. What is known about the topic? The body mass index of the general population is rising steadily. Being overweight or obese has a detrimental effect on physical health and is a major cause of preventable death. However, there are conflicting findings regarding the implications of excess weight on an individuals’ mental health. What does this paper add? This paper substantiates the relationship between body mass index and health-related quality of life in the general adult population. Obesity was associated with poor mental wellbeing for individuals between the ages of 45 and 54. What are the implications for practice? This study underscores the need for mental health and wellbeing to become part of standard assessment practice for individuals who are overweight or obese, particularly those aged between 45 and 54 years.


Category 1 - Australian Competitive Grants (this includes ARC, NHMRC)






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CSIRO Publishing



Peer Reviewed

  • Yes

Open Access

  • No

External Author Affiliations

Faculty of Sciences, Engineering and Health; Institute for Health and Social Science Research (IHSSR); Institute for Health and Social Science Research (IHSSR);

Era Eligible

  • Yes


Australian health review.