The more ongoing stress children are exposed to the greater the odds they will struggle with their weight as adolescents, according to a study recently published in Pediatrics.
The findings (subscription required) support past research showing molecules released when a person is stressed may unlock the body's fat cells, and additional studies suggesting that stress contributes to childhood obesity.
Futurity reports that in the latest study:
The researchers measured the height and weight of 244 9-year-olds in rural New York state and calculated their various physical and psycho-social stressors--for example, exposure to violence, living in a substandard house, or having no access to such resources as books.
They also measured the children's ability to delay gratification by offering them a choice between waiting for a large plate of candy versus having a medium plate immediately. The researchers measured the children's height and weight again four years later.
The study showed children who were chronically exposed to stressors such as poverty, crowded housing and family turmoil gained more weight and were significantly heavier by age 13 than they would have been otherwise. Researchers say the findings could have implications for weight management interventions and policies aimed at reducing individual stressors.
Previously: How should parents talk to their kids about weight control?, How should pediatricians talk about obesity?, Scientists take a divide-and-conquer approach to combating childhood obesity and How to combat childhood obesity? Try everything
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