Stressed parents are making their children fat

Obesity in children is a growing problem in the UK. Recent research has linked the increased number of children with high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels to being overweight. Today a study has been published indicating one contributing factor that could be making children fatter.

Children of stressed-out parents have been found to be more likely to be obese than those of calmer, more relaxed parents.

A group of paediatric doctors and nutritionists at the specialist Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia conducted a study in which they examined the results of the 2006 South-eastern Pennsylvania Household Health Survey and the Community Health Database. The responses of 2,119 parents of children aged 3-17 were reviewed, twenty-five percent of these children were reported to be obese.

The researchers were particularly interested in the reported number of reported parental stressors, parent-perceived stress, fast-food intake, fruit and vegetable consumption and the amount of physical activity the children participated in.

The results of the study showed that financial stress was most significantly linked to the lack of child physical activity. The results also showed that parental stress was connected to an increase in amounts of fast food consumed by children however was not attributed to a decrease in the amount of fruit and vegetables consumed by their children. However it is worth noting that for the purpose of the study chips was regarded as a vegetable.

The study demonstrates the need for parents to have appropriate stress management techniques and practices in place so that their own health and the health of their children is not negatively impacted.

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