Overweight and obese adolescents are at risk for low health-related quality of life (HRQOL). We examined the role of individual- and environmental-level variables on the relationship between body mass index (BMI kg/m2) and HRQOL in adolescents.
Linear regressions were performed to conduct mediation and moderation analyses on the relationship between BMI and HRQOL in overweight and obese adolescents (N = 205). HRQOL was measured by the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory. Hypothesized mediators included depression, measured by the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale; body image, measured by the gender-specific body dissatisfaction subscale of the Eating Disorder Inventory; and self-esteem, measured by the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale. Mediation was assessed using Baron and Kenny’s approach and Sobel’s test of indirect effects. Anglo-acculturation, measured by the Short Acculturation Scale for Hispanics-Youth, and environmental perception, measured by parent-proxy report of the Neighborhood Environment Walkability Scale, were hypothesized moderators.
Body image mediated the relationship between BMI and HRQOL (b = −0.34, SE = 0.17, adj R 2 = 0.19, p = .051), and self-esteem was a partial mediator (b = −0.37, SE = 0.17, adj R 2 = 0.24, p = .027). Sobel’s test confirmed these results (p < .05). No significant moderation effects were found.
The finding that individual-level factors, such as body image and self-esteem, influence the relationship between BMI and HRQOL while environmental factors, such as neighborhood environment and acculturation, do not extends previous research. The finding that body image and self-esteem partially mediate this relationship presents new areas to investigate in interventions that address BMI in youth.