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28-05-2018 | Empirical Research | Uitgave 7/2018 Open Access

Journal of Youth and Adolescence 7/2018

Reciprocal Prospective Relationships Between Loneliness and Weight Status in Late Childhood and Early Adolescence

Journal of Youth and Adolescence > Uitgave 7/2018
Pamela Qualter, Ruth Hurley, Alice Eccles, Janice Abbott, Michel Boivin, Richard Tremblay
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s10964-018-0867-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.


Adolescents who do not conform to weight ideals are vulnerable to disapproval and victimization from peers in school. But, missing from the literature is a prospective examination of weight status and feelings of loneliness that might come from those experiences. Using data from the Québec Longitudinal Study of Child Development, we filled that gap by examining the prospective associations between loneliness and weight status when the sample was aged 10–13 years. At ages 10, 12, and 13 years, 1042 youth (572 females; 92% from French speaking homes) reported on their loneliness and were weighed and measured. Family income sufficiency was included in our analyses given its relationship with weight status, but also its possible link with loneliness during early adolescence. The findings showed that (1) weight status and loneliness were not associated concurrently; (2) weight status predicted increases in loneliness from ages 12 to 13 years; and (3) loneliness predicted increases in weight from ages 12 to 13 years among female adolescents, but weight loss among male adolescents. The fact that loneliness was involved in weight gain for females suggests that interventions focused on reducing loneliness and increasing connection with peers during early adolescence could help in reducing obesity.

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