September 25, 2008

Publication: Evening Herald

Date: Saturday, September 20, 2008 Page: 8

Author: Fiona Dillon

Headline: Suicidal thoughts more likely among overweight teens

TEENAGERS who are overweight or obese are more likely to have considered suicide than those who are a normal weight, a new study has found. The findings come as one in five Irish teenagers are classed as overweight or obese. Researchers from the University of Liverpool measured the height and weight of 799 students from five comprehensive schools. This was used to calculate each student's body mass index (BMI). The researchers also asked the pupils to complete questionnaires, including a 'Mood and Feelings' questionnaire, which asked about suicidal ideation thinking about suicide with some degree of intent and an Eating Disorders Inventory (EDI). The pupils' EDI scores were compared with those of 174 adolescents of the same age and sex who had anorexia nervosa. The researchers found the prevalence of suicidal ideation was 13.3pc (ll.lpc in boys and 15.5pc in girls). A direct relationship existed between suicidal ideation and BMI, with overweight and obese adolescents experiencing the highest rates of 26.8pc – more than twice the average prevalence for the entire group.

Adolescents of both genders who had suicidal ideation were also found to have significantly higher EDI scores, meaning they had high levels of dissatisfaction with their bodies and a high drive for thinness. However, these scores were not as high as among the group with anorexia nervosa.

The researchers concluded that being overweight or obese, together with associated dissatisfaction with weight and shape, maybe a significant risk factor for considering suicide in adolescence in both sexes. The research emerged from the Royal College of Psychiatrists' Faculty of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Annual Residential Conference in Liverpool.