Stress and Childhood Obesity

Stress and Childhood Obesity

Very young children, especially girls, may be at an increased risk of obesity when certain social risk factors are present, according to a new study.
Very young children, especially girls, may be at an increased risk of obesity  when certain social risk factors are present, according to a new study.

Public data for over 1,600 preschool children was analyzed and researchers looked at six social stressors when the children were one and three years old.

Stressors included depression in mothers, substance abuse by mothers, partner violence, unstable housing situations, lack of food, and if the father was in jail. 
Results showed 17% of children were obese at 5-years-old, and young girls with more than one stressor had significantly higher odds of obesity.

The study did not find a link between social stress and obesity in boys.

Doctors say this study is an eye opener as to how sensitive young children may be to social stressors.

"Even at one year of age, kids are aware of the stressors that are around them so i think that's pretty useful information for us to know that we have to be thinking about these sorts of things even at young ages," said Dr. Deb Lonzer of Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital.

Complete results can be found in the journal "Pediatrics".
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