Psychological distress and internet-related behaviors between schoolchildren with and without overweight during the COVID-19 outbreak

Chao Ying Chen, I. Hua Chen, Kerry S. O’Brien, Janet D. Latner, Chung Ying Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective: The novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and its resulting social policy changes may result in psychological distress among schoolchildren with overweight. This study thus aimed to (1) compare psychological distress (including fear of COVID-19 infection, stress, anxiety, and depression), perceived weight stigma, and problematic internet-related behaviors between schoolchildren with and without overweight; (2) assess whether perceived weight stigma and problematic internet-related behaviors explained psychological distress. Methods: Schoolchildren (n = 1357; mean age = 10.7 years) with overweight (n = 236) and without overweight (n = 1121) completed an online survey assessing their fear of COVID-19 infection, stress, anxiety, depression, perceived weight stigma, problematic smartphone application use, problematic social media use, and problematic gaming. Results: Schoolchildren with overweight had significantly higher levels of COVID-19 infection fear, stress, depression, perceived weight stigma, and problematic social media use than those without overweight. Regression models showed that perceived weight stigma and problematic internet-related behaviors were significant predictors of psychological distress among schoolchildren with overweight. Conclusion: Strategies to manage perceived weight stigma and problematic internet-related behaviors may have a positive influence on mental health among schoolchildren with overweight under health-threatening circumstances, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)677-686
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
Volume45
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

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