Stress Linked To Adolescent Obesity
Jim LiebeltJim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University. Jim has over 25 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, and has been on the HomeWord staff since 1998. He has served over the years as a pastor, author, youth ministry trainer, adjunct college instructor and speaker. Jim’s culture blog and parenting articles appear on HomeWord.com. Jim is a contributing author of culture and parenting articles to Crosswalk.com. Jim and his wife Jenny live in Olympia, WA.
- 2009 May 18
Stress may indeed be a direct contributor to childhood obesity. That's according to a new Iowa State University study finding that increased levels of stress in adolescents are associated with a greater likelihood of them being overweight or obese.
The study of 1,011 adolescents (aged 10-15) and their mothers from low income families living in three cities -- Boston, Chicago and San Antonio -- was posted on the Web site of the Journal of Adolescent Health, which will publish it in the August issue. Forty-seven percent of the teens in the sample were overweight or obese, but that percentage increased to 56.2 percent among those who were impacted by four or more stressors.
"We found that an adolescent or youth who's more stressed -- caused by such things as having poor grades, mental health problems, more aggressive behavior, or doing more drugs and alcohol -- is also more likely to be overweight or obese," said lead author Brenda Lohman, an Iowa State assistant professor of human development and family studies.
The five factors used to determine the individual stressor index for the adolescents were:
Consumption of drugs and alcohol
Depression or poor mental health levels
Acting out or aggressive behaviors
Lack of future orientation
The researchers wrote that the adolescents' relationship with stress and becoming overweight may be a result of biological (perturbed hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal glands) as well as behavioral responses to stress, such as overeating and lack of exercise.
possibly be that the obesity is leading to these stressors too," Lohman
said. "And so the work that we're doing right now looks at which one of
these is really coming first: the stressors or the obesity. We know
that it is cyclical and that all of these factors just compound on each
Source: Science Daily