Body Mass Index Among Icelandic Adolescents: Trends, Determinants, and Predictors
By: Sigridur Eidsdottir
Published: 05/16/2012
Uploaded: 11/09/2017
Uploaded by: Pocket Masters
Pockets: 2012 (May) Teachers College Columbia University Ed.D. Dissertations, Gottesman Libraries Archive, Historical Dissertations
Tags: BMI, depression, Obesity, overweight, socioeconomic status, trends

Description/Abstract: Increased prevalence of overweight/obesity among adolescents has been documented around the globe. However, few data were available on national trends in body mass index (BMI) among Icelandic adolescents. The development of effective prevention strategies mandates recognition of individuals at risk. Iceland has been considered comparatively homogeneous in terms of socioeconomic class and there were no published studies on socioeconomic disparities and adolescent overweight/obesity. Depression is also an increasingly common condition that is associated with obesity, however, the nature of the association is not known, but body related psychosocial components have been speculated to mediate the relationship between overweight and depression. This dissertation comprises three separate reports on BMI among Icelandic adolescents. The data came from population-based cross-sectional surveys, the
Youth in Iceland study series. The first study looks at the trends in BMI among 14
to-20-year-olds during 1992 to 2007, and the distribution of mean BMI within each weight category. The second study examines SES and family structure differences
in the prevalence of overweight/obesity, among 16-to-20-year-olds during 1992 to
2010. The third study tests a model of the relationship between BMI, body image,
and depressive symptoms among the same age group, the 16- to 20-year-olds, in

The prevalence of overweight/obesity increased from 14.7% to 26.3% among boys and 11.5% to 17.8% among girls from 1992 to 2007. The prevalence increased in all
SES subgroups, and was consistently highest among those from low-SES backgrounds,
followed by the middle-SES subgroup. Additionally, the magnitude of the differences between the SES subgroups increased over time. Lastly, higher BMI levels were associated with depressive symptoms entirely through body dissatisfaction. Both relationships were significantly stronger for girls than boys.
These results dictate that immediate actions are needed to reverse the observed trend. Increase in the prevalence of overweight/obesity in all parental SES subgroups indicates some common factor behind these trends. Consequently, interventions need to be broad but population-specific, focusing on ecological factors and changes in the social and environmental determinants of youth lifestyles. In addition, depressive symptoms in overweight/obese adolescents should be assessed, and obesity prevention and treatments should integrate components aimed at reducing body dissatisfaction.