Does Mental Health Differ by Obesity in Younger, Middle Aged, and Older Females?




Torre, Jacob
Shropshire, Michelle
Zeitz, Erica
Fuller, Aleksandra
Hartos, Jessica


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Purpose: Although the relationship between mental health and obesity has been well studied, it has not been researched by age groups. The purpose of this study is to examine the relations between mental health and obesity among younger, middle aged, and older adult female age categories in the general population. Methods: The cross-sectional analysis used 2016 data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) for females from Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Multiple logistic regression was used by state to assess the relationship between obesity and mental health in females of different age groups while controlling for race, education level, income level, employment status, marital status, general health, health conditions, tobacco use, alcohol use, and physical activity. Results: The majority of participants in all age groups reported good mental health (younger: 49-56%; middle aged: 57-59%, older: 71-82%), and less than half of participants across age groups were obese (younger: 29-41%; middle aged: 38-49%; older: 27-35%). In the adjusted analyses, mental health did not differ by weight status across states and age groups. However, a moderate inverse relationship was found between good mental health and number of health conditions across all age groups. Conclusion: The results of this study indicate that obesity is not related to mental health in females in different age groups in the general population, but is moderately to highly related to number of health conditions. For female patients in a primary care setting, it is recommended to screen for mental health when 2 or more health conditions are present, regardless of the patient’s age, and educate and treat as comorbid symptoms.