The American epidemic of childhood obesity could have a big impact on future generations, but relieving stress among our children is just one way to reduce this health risk.
Recent studies have found that 25 million children and adolescents in America are overweight or obese. This means that one in every three kids is battling this serious health problem. There are many causes of this increase in childhood obesity. Research shows that our children are less active than previous generations and they consume more calories per day than kids in 1970. Eating more and exercising less can lead to childhood obesity.
Emotional problems can also contribute to childhood obesity. Studies have found that feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress are important, but often overlooked, factors for obesity. Not only does stress contribute to obesity, obesity also contributes to kids’ stress. In an American Psychological Association study, 22 percent of the children report feeling stressed because they are insecure about their weight. Parents and physicians have continued to spread awareness about the contributing factors of childhood obesity.
How Does Stress Contribute to Childhood Obesity
Listed below are just a few ways in which stress contributes to the high obesity rates among American children.
Stress and Comfort Food
Studies have found that more children are turning to food for comfort when faced with stressful situations such as peer pressure at school. However the comfort they receive from eating is short-lived; thus children often to continue to overeat, creating an unhealthy pattern.
Stress and Bad Eating Habits
When kids are under stress they have a tendency to indulge in bad eating habits like eating fatty or sugary foods. And because cortisol (or stress) levels can increase our appetites, children may also mistake their feelings of stress for hunger. This may cause them to develop bad eating habits, like eating when they are not hungry.
Parents’ Stress and Childhood Obesity
The stress of parents also contributes to childhood obesity. A study reported by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia found a connection between extreme parent stress and more frequent fast-food consumption by children. Most fast-food meals are full of fat and sugar, which greatly contributes to obesity.