Do Your Responses To Stress Contribute To Your Child's Fat?

Overeating is a common response to stress among adults and kids.: image via is a common response to stress among adults and kids.: image via recent lifestyle study of adults and children conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA) found that both groups are experiencing relatively high levels of stress, and that stress is responsible for unhealthy lifestyle choices, like overeating.  Do parents teaching their kids how to handle stress?

Overweight and obese children were found to have higher stress levels, by their own accounts, than normal weight children.  And though, as reported in an earlier Harris Interactive survey, parents are for the most part unaware of the effect their stress has on their children, the APA study indicated that children are quite aware of their parents' stress. In fact, 79 percent of all children surveyed by the APA said that their parents were often or always stressed in the prior four weeks.

Most stressed parents admitted that their stress was causing them to lead unhealthy lifestyles, including having unhealthy relationships with food.  While obesity percentages among adults have been flat during the last five years, levels of child obesity among tweens and teens are on a steady rise.  Stress levels are rising rapidly in all age groups; but are adults providing good role models for handling stress?

You be the judge. When stress hits, these are some of the ways our overweight children respond:

  • 48 percent eat too much, compared to 33 percent of normal weight children
  • 43 percent get headaches, compared to 28 percent of normal weight children
  • 48 percent have problems falling asleep, compared to 16 percent of normal weight children
  • 22 percent get angry or get into fights, compared to 13 percent of normal weight children
  • 27 percent eat to make themselves feel better, compared to 14 percent of normal weight children

The APA's executive director for professional practice, Dr. Katherine C. Nordal, summed up what parents need to do for their children...

"Even though children know when their parents are stressed and admit that it directly affects them, parents are grossly underestimating the impact that their stress is having on their children. It's critical that parents communicate with their children about how to identify stress triggers and manage stress in healthy ways while they're young and still developing behavioral patterns. If children don't learn these lessons early on, it could significantly impact their physical health and emotional well-being down the road, especially as they become adults."

For the complete report, see Stress in America, 2010.  It is very interesting and even breaks down stress levels and causes by city!

Medical News Today