Weight excess among high-school students: Relation with mental health and sociodemographic factors


Ferdaous Ouni
Rim Ghammam
Sihem Benfredj
Nawel Zammit
Israr El Echi
Souhir Chelly
Houda Kalboussi
Jihen Maatoug
Imed Harrabi
Hassen Ghannem


Introduction: The escalating prevalence of adolescent obesity represents a complex public health challenge, influenced by interactions of environmental, socio-economic, and behavioral factors. Recent studies reveal a surge in addictive substance use among adolescents, with non-substance addictions. Overweight adolescents are particularly susceptible to risky behaviors. Tunisia is not exempt from this issue, facing a rapidly increasing prevalence.

Aim: Our work aimed to assess the prevalence of obesity among adolescents and to explore the connections between sociodemographic factors, mental health, and overweight in this demographic group.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was led among sample of Tunisian high school adolescents from Sousse. We enrolled study participants through proportional stratified sampling.

Results: Our study included 1399students, predominantly female, with an average age of 17±1.5 years. The average BMI (Body Mass Index) was 22.7±4.1 kg/m². According to the International Obesity Task Force (IOTF), 20.4% were overweight, and 7% were obese, resulting in an overall weight excess prevalence of 27.4%. Girls exhibited a higher weight excess prevalence compared to boys. Multivariate analysis identified factors associated with overweight and obesity, including maternal self-employment(aOR=2.13,[1.35-3.35];p<0.001), regular physical activity (aOR=0.61,[0.47-0.8];p<0.001), internet usage ≥2 hours (aOR=0.70,[0.50-0.99];p=0.045), daily fruit-vegetable consumption (aOR=1.51,[1.15-1.97]; p=0.003), possible alexithymia (aOR=1.55,[1.07-2.22];p=0.018), probable anxiety (aOR=1.28,[0.87-1.89]; p=0.007), very probable anxiety (aOR=1.61,[1.14-2.2]; p=0.037), and problematic Facebook-use (aOR=0.67,[0.50-0.89]; p=0.006).

Conclusion: Understanding factors tied to excess weight in our social and cultural context is crucial in shaping effective public health strategies. Interventions should adopt a multisectoral approach specifically targeting working mothers within the adolescent's socio-familial environment .....( abstract truncated at 250 words).


obesity, overweight , mental health , addiction, adolescent



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