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20-05-2015 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 11/2015

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 11/2015

Predicting Depressive Symptoms and Weight from Adolescence to Adulthood: Stressors and the Role of Protective Factors

Tijdschrift:
Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 11/2015
Auteurs:
Jocelyn Smith Carter, Trey Dellucci, Carolyn Turek, Sophie Mir

Abstract

Depressive symptoms and weight gain follow similar developmental trajectories from adolescence to adulthood and stressors are a risk factor for both. However, less is known about whether they share protective factors that reduce the risk for depressive symptoms and weight gain. The goal of the current study was to examine the role of stress and four protective factors (social support, self-esteem, physical activity, and sedentary behavior) as predictors of depressive symptoms and body mass index over time. Participating in the current study were 6504 (51.6 % female; 60.7 % European American, 22.5 % African American, 11.4 % Hispanic, 3.3 % Asian American, and 2 % other ethnicities) adolescents from the National Study of Adolescent and Adult Health. Participants were followed for three waves from adolescence to young adulthood (Wave I age range = 12–18; Wave III age range = 18–26). Data were analyzed using multi-level modeling and results showed that stressors significantly predicted trajectories of depressive symptoms and body mass index over time. Social support buffered the effects of stressors on BMI over time. Self-esteem influenced trajectories of both BMI and depressive symptoms. Differential effects were found for physical activity with physical activity predicting declines in depressive symptoms and sedentary behavior predicting declines in BMI over time. The current study suggests that stress is a common risk factor for depressive symptoms and weight gain, but that there is specificity in how the protective factors influence each type of outcome.

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