Objective: To investigate the relationship between excess weight (overweight and obesity) and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in a sample of secondary school children in Fiji, by gender, age and ethnicity.
Methods: The study comprised 8947 children from forms 3-6 (age 12-18 years) in 18 secondary schools on Viti Levu, the main island of Fiji. Body mass index (BMI) was calculated from measured height and weight, and weight status was classified according to the International Obesity Task Force recommendations. HRQoL was measured by the self-report version of the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory 4.0.
Results: HRQoL was similar in children with obesity and normal weight. Generally, this was replicated when analyzed separately by gender and ethnicity, but age stratification revealed disparities. In 12-14-year-old children, obesity was associated with better HRQoL, owing to better social and school functioning and well-being, and in 15-18-year olds with poorer HRQoL, owing to worse physical, emotional and social functioning and well-being (Cohen's d 0.2-0.3). Children with a BMI in the overweight range also reported a slightly lower HRQoL than children with a BMI in the normal weight range, but although statistically significant, the size of this difference was trivial (Cohen's d <0.2).
Discussion: The results suggest that, overall there is no meaningful negative association between excess weight and HRQoL in secondary school children in Fiji. This is in contradiction to the negative relationship between excess weight and HRQoL shown in studies from other countries and cultures. The assumption that a large body size is associated with a lower quality of life cannot be held universally. Although a generally low HRQoL among children in Fiji may be masking or overriding the potential effect of excess weight on HRQoL, socio-economic and/or socio-cultural factors, may help to explain these relationships.
Nature Publishing Group, 2014. Vol. 38, no 4, 539-546 p.
adolescent, functioning and well-being, health-related quality of life, pacific, PedsQL