Obesogenic behaviours and depressive symptoms in children: a narrative literature review

Michelle Dennison, Susan B. Sisson, Amanda Morris

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

7 Scopus citations


This review examines peer-reviewed, published articles exploring the role of obesogenic behaviours, including physical activity, screen time, and diet, and depressive symptoms, in 6- to 12-year-old children. Searches were conducted March–May 2014 and in August 2015 using PubMed, PsychInfo, and Embase. Eligible studies published between January 1990–August 2015 included 8- to 12-year-old children, any of the three previously identified obesogenic behaviours, and a measure of depressive symptoms. The search yielded 415 articles that were screened and assessed for eligibility; 21 were retained. Some studies included depression and a single obesogenic behaviour, while others included multiple obesogenic behaviours. Fifteen studies assessed physical activity, twelve assessed screen time, and five assessed dietary intake. Lower physical activity was associated with higher depression in 80% of studies. Higher screen time was associated with higher depression in all studies. Poor dietary intake was associated with higher depression in 60% of studies. Significant associations were found between depression and all three obesogenic behaviours. Stronger associations were found between depression and physical activity and screen time than between depression and dietary intake. This review broadens the understanding of the relationship between obesogenic behaviours and depression, and shows outcome consistency despite the lack of a consistent measurement technique.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)735-757
Number of pages23
JournalObesity Reviews
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2016



  • diet
  • physical inactivity
  • screen time
  • youth depressive symptoms

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