Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Eric A. Storch, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Vicky Phares, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Alison Salloum, Ph.D., LCSW

Committee Member

Joel K. Thompson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Tammy Allen, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Eun Sook Kim, Ph.D.


Adolescent, Anxiety, Body Mass Index, Child, Health-Related Quality of Life


The purpose of the current study was to examine putative mediators and moderators in the association between adiposity and anxiety in a sample of overweight and obese youth. In addition, anxiety was examined as a potential moderator between adiposity and health-related quality of life (HRQOL). Participants were youth (N = 137) between 8 and 17 years old (M = 13.09, SD = 2.61) and their legal caregivers recruited from four medical clinics affiliated with the University of South Florida. Youth were primarily overweight (28.5%) or obese (64.2%) and ethnically diverse. Data were analyzed by path analysis. Weight-related teasing significantly mediated the association between adiposity and child reported anxiety, but competency-related teasing and peer victimization were not significant mediators. Internalization of appearance ideals significantly moderated the association between adiposity and anxiety by child report; however, no significant moderations were found for parent report. Additionally, sociocultural pressures to meet appearance ideals were not significant moderators by child or parent report. Notably, anxiety significantly moderated the association between adiposity and social functioning by child report, with those experiencing greater anxiety evidencing poorer social quality of life. However, anxiety did not moderate the association between adiposity and other domains of HRQOL by parent or child report. Given the significant increase in pediatric overweight and obesity in recent decades, it is particularly important to understand the psychosocial implications of excess adiposity in youth. Clinical and research implications are discussed focusing on the mechanisms between adiposity and anxiety and suggested clinical interventions to address said mechanisms.