Family Factors and Obesity in Relation to Mental Health Among Korean Children and Adolescents

  • Hye-Mi Noh
  • Jane Park
  • Eun-Ju Sung
  • Young Soo Ju
  • Hye-Ja Lee
  • Yoon-Kyoung Jeong
  • Kyung Hee ParkEmail author
Original Paper



Family factors have been associated with the mental health of children and adolescents. We investigated the relationship between family factors and depressive symptoms in obese Korean children and adolescents.


Participants included 281 overweight or obese youth (aged 10 to 14) who participated in an obesity intervention program. Participants in the highest tertile on the Child Depression Inventory were categorized as the depressive group. Using the Family Adaptability, Partnership, Growth, Affection, and Resolve Test, we defined a highly functional family with a score of 7 or more. We evaluated the associations between the severity of depressive symptoms and family factors after stratifying for gender using multivariate logistic regression.


Poorly functioning family was associated with higher levels of depressive symptoms (boys, odds ratio [OR] = 5.95, 95% CI [2.54–13.93]; girls OR = 3.16, 95% CI [1.19–8.38]). Having a good parental relationship was significantly associated with lower levels of depressive symptoms in boys (OR = 0.30, 95% CI [0.10–0.96]). In girls, severely obese status showed higher association with depressive symptoms compared to girls who were overweight (OR = 4.74, 95% CI [1.01–19.84]).


We identified associations between family functioning, parent-child relations, obesity severity, and depressive symptoms in this sample of overweight and obese youth, suggesting that the development of family-focused interventions to accompany weight loss strategies may benefit the mental health of obese youth.


Adolescence Depression Family functioning Obesity Parent-Child Relations 


Author Contributions

K.H.P., J.P., and H.M.N. suggested the study. K.H.P., J.P., H.M.N., E.J.S., Y.S.J., H.J.L., and Y.K.J. designed the study and developed the study protocol. K.H.P., J.P., and H.M.N. analysed the data. All authors interpreted the results. J.P. and H.M.N. drafted the manuscript. All authors contributed to the critical revision of the manuscript. K.H.P., J.P., H.M.N., E.J.S., Y.S.J., H.J.L., and Y.K.J. have full access to all of the data in the study and take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.


This study was funded by a grant from the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (grant number: 2015-ER6401-00 and 2016-ER6405-00).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Ethics approval was obtained from the Hallym University Sacred Heart Hospital’s Institutional Review Board (approval number: 2015-I134 and 2016-I135).

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Family Medicine, Hallym University Sacred Heart HospitalHallym UniversityGyeonggi-doRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.Department of Social Welfare, Seoul National University, College of Social SciencesSeoul National UniversitySeoulRepublic of Korea
  3. 3.Department of Family Medicine, Kangbuk Samsung Medical Center, School of MedicineSungKyunKwan UniversitySeoulRepublic of Korea
  4. 4.Department of Occupational and Environmental MedicineHallym University Sacred Heart HospitalGyeonggi-doRepublic of Korea
  5. 5.Center for Biomedical SciencesKorea National Institute of HealthCheongjuRepublic of Korea
  6. 6.Department of PsychologyCatholic University of KoreaSeoulRepublic of Korea

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