Depression is associated with lower levels of physical activity, body image dissatisfaction, and obesity in Chilean preadolescents

Mental health during the preadolescent years may be determinant for later periods of life; therefore, the factors that influence it need to be studied deeply. The aim of this study was to determine the association between depressive symptoms with physical activity (PA), body image dissatisfaction and weight status in preadolescents. A total of 269 girls and 329 boys (age 12.02 +/- 0.98 years) were included in this study. Body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, body image dissatisfaction, PA and depressive symptoms were assessed. The PA reported an inverse association with depression in girls (beta:-2.12, P < 0.0001) and boys (beta:-1.13, P = 0.001). Instead, BMI in girls (beta: 1.00, P < 0.0001) and boys (beta: 0.70, P < 0.0001), and body image dissatisfaction in girls (beta: 0.05, P = 0.017) and boys (beta: 0.04, P = 0.003) reported positive association with depression. In the same way, depression was associated with obesity (odds ratio [OR] = 2.05, P = 0.020), but, the boys had higher risk (OR = 18.4, P < 0.001) than girls. In conclusion, depression in Chilean preadolescents presented association with low levels of PA, obesity and body image dissatisfaction. Therefore, schools should target and promote PA to improve psychological and physical health in preadolescents, which may reduce the future burden of mental illness.

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