Stress in Parents Linked to Obesity in Kids
Obesity in children under 18 has been recognized as a serious health problem for over 25 years while it has multiplied in the past 10 years. In a recent study, researchers discovered that the more stressors that are in the household, the more the children are affected and that leads to childhood obesity.
Parents who have financial struggles, relationship issues, poor health themselves or are single parents unknowingly transfer their stress to their children. Bringing home fast food for dinner instead of preparing a quick, healthy meal only adds to the stressors that the parents and children are feeling.
“Although multiple stressors can elicit a ‘stressor pile-up,’ causing adverse physical health in children, parent’s perception of their general stress level may be more important than the actual stressors,” the authors wrote in the article.
This independent survey was distributed under the Southeastern Pennsylvania Household Health Survey/Community Health Database in 2006.
Eleanor Mackey, PhD, is a child psychologist at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., sees this survey as changing the way childhood obesity is treated.
“It highlights that some families may be at risk for obesity due to stress,” she says. “We need to look at single parents and realize that they are at higher risk, and teach them how to deal with stress in a healthy way. We can also teach meal planning that will allow these families to put healthier foods on the table.”
Stress release techniques and supportive measures could be developed for use inside the home.
The findings appear in Pediatrics.