Effects of Perceived Peer Isolation and Social Support Availability on the Relationship Between Body Mass Index and Depressive Symptoms

Document Type



Community and Global Health (CGU)

Publication Date



Developmental Psychology | Health Psychology | Mental and Social Health | Multicultural Psychology | Psychiatric and Mental Health | Psychological Phenomena and Processes



To examine relationships between body mass index (BMI) and psychological correlates in Chinese school adolescents during the period of economic transition.


Baseline data of 1655 Chinese adolescents aged 11–15 y were retrieved from a longitudinal smoking cessation and health promotion program in Wuhan, China. Assessments of body weight and height, depressive symptoms, perceived peer isolation (PPI) and perceived availability of social support (PASS) were collected.


Based on the International Obesity Task Force (IOTF) age-and sex-specific BMI cutoffs, 12.5% of boys and 9.2% of girls were overweight. In girls, high BMI was significantly related to higher self-reported depressive symptoms, and was dominantly mediated by PPI. On the contrary, high BMI boys reported significantly lower levels of PPI although high PPI level aggravated depressive symptoms. For both girls and boys, the observed effect of PPI on the relationship between BMI and depressive symptoms was sustained only in low PASS boys and girls.


The present study revealed different effects of PPI on the association of BMI and depressive symptoms between boys and girls, which were buffered by levels of PASS. The findings of this study may contribute to our understanding of the influences of psychological correlates in pediatric overweight in the Eastern cultural environment.

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© 2016 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature.