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Girls' weight linked to behavior problems

Posted - Aug. 4, 2004 at 12:20 p.m.



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SANTA MONICA, Calif., Aug 04, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Being overweight is linked much more strongly with behavior problems in girls entering kindergarten than in boys, U.S. researchers said.

Researchers at RAND Corporation studied almost 10,000 children as young as 5 years old entering kindergarten. They collected information on height, weight and parent- and teacher-reported behavior problems three times over the children's first two years in school.

They found teachers reported behavior problems -- such as inability to pay attention and aggressiveness -- 81 percent more in overweight girls than in overweight boys. Teachers also reported internal problems for overweight girls, such as depression and withdrawal, 54 percent more than boys, while parents reported 49 percent more.

Psychological problems are among the consequences of being overweight during childhood, the researchers said, and overweight children may be teased and ridiculed, leading to low self-esteem. However, they added, most research on overweight and mental health has focused on adolescents and adults.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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