Obesity/overweight and physical activity's relationship with depressive symptoms of 13 to 15 year-old girls in the North-West Province : the THUSA BANA study
Van Zyl, Pieter Strauss
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The aim of this study was firstly to determine if obesity/overweight has any statistically significant relationship with depressive symptoms in 13 to 15 year-old girls in the North-West Province, and secondly what the influence of physical activity on this probable relationship between obesity/overweight and depressive symptoms is. This study formed part of the THUSA BANA research project which was an inter-disciplinary project of the Faculty of Health Sciences of the North-West University (Potchefstroom Campus). Two of the five schools of this faculty namely the School of Biokinetics, Recreation and Sport Science and the School of Psycho-Social Behavioural Sciences participated in this project. The study commenced in April 2000 and was completed in June 2001. The Ethics Committee of the North-West University (Potchefstroom Campus) approved the study (project number 00M10) and only children whose parents signed forms of informed consent were allowed to participate. Although the THUSA BANA project consisted of 1257 children of different ethnic groups living in the North-West Province between the ages of 10 and 15 years of age, this study focused on a sub population of girls between 13 to 15 years of age (N = 230). Anthropometric data was collected and used to determine the percentage body fat and body mass index (BMT). The Previous Day Physical Activity Recall (PDPAR) questionnaire developed by Trost et al. (1999:343) was used to determine levels of physical activity. Depressive symptomatology was assessed by means of a self-report instrument, the Children's Depression Inventory (CDI), which was developed for children between the ages of 8 and 17 (Kovacs, 1985:995). A one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) and a two-way analysis of variance (MANOVA) was used for all comparisons (Thomas & Nelson, 1996:107-115) using Statistica for Microsoft Windows (StatSoft, Inc. 1984 - 2000). Children in the present study reported extremely high levels of depression, bordering on diagnosis of major depressive disorder (Craighead et ai., 1998:156; Jansen van Rensenburg, 2001:16) with 71% of the total group of girls reporting an above average or very much above average level of depression. Also, the majority of the 13 - 15 year-old girls in this study had high levels of obesity with over 48% being classified as having a high or a very high level of body fat. In the total group of girls 74% reported low levels of activity, with 21% reporting normal activity levels and only 6% of girls were highly active. According to the results of this study there was no statistical significant relationship between obesity and depressive symptoms in 13 to 15 year-old girls in the North-West Province. There is, however, a trend towards increased levels of depression with an increase in percentage body fat. Hypothesis 1 was rejected. From the results it also appears that physical activity had no influence on the probable relationship between obesity and depressive symptoms. This was mainly due to the very low levels of physical activity reported by the subjects. There is, however, an indication that low levels of physical activity can be associated with increased levels of depressive symptoms. Hypothesis 2 was rejected.
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