Authors Name: 
Laura Moore
University College Dublin
Nursing & Midwifery
Highly commended

Are overweight and/or obese adolescents at a greater risk of negative psychological health than their “normal” weight peers?

Nowadays the prevalence of obesity and overweight has undoubtedly reached pandemic proportions. Although the pervasiveness of obesity and its numerous physical and financial complications are well documented, the psychological implications have been explored to a lesser degree. As with obesity, mental health issues are not only increasing but young people seem to be of particular risk.  Furthermore there is a reported link between obesity and psychological issues with 42% of Irish adolescents reporting their weight has a negative impact on their body image.Hence the writer feels these are two very topical and important issues which should be explored further and posed the question, are overweight and obese adolescents at greater risk of negative psychological effects than their peers? Global articles where explored before putting the research in an Irish context.  Three main themes emerged from the studies: Body image, depression and the difference between males and females. A strong correlation between weight and negative psychological health was established, with a more pronounced impact among adolescent girls. It is vital that there is a shift in Irish healthcare from the exclusive treatment of the acute presentation, to taking preventative measures. This approach could be both time and cost effective, particularly during such challenging financial times, where mental health problems and obesity have been recognised as large components of public expenditure. Furthermore targeting adolescent females may be beneficial as they emerged as the most vulnerable group .