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Stress In Parents Linked To Obesity In Kids

Posted Oct 22 2012 12:24pm

From WebMD…..

One in three kids in America is overweight or obese, and having stressed-out parents may be contributing to these rates, a new study suggests.

The more stress the parents report, the more likely their children are to be overweight or obese, the research shows.

Why? For starters, stressed-out parents and caregivers are more likely to frequent fast food restaurants for themselves and their families, and are more likely to engage in “haphazard meal planning.”

In the new study, 2,119 parents and caregivers answered questions about themselves and their children who were aged 3 to 17. Researchers measured the number of stressors and parents’ self-reports of the stress in their lives.

Parents’ stress did not seem to affect the amount of fruits and vegetables the children ate or their physical activity levels.

Eleanor Mackey, PhD, is a child psychologist at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. “We do see this in clinical practice,” she says. “Parents are often stressed and have a hard time providing healthy options.”

The easy defaults are unhealthy — namely high-fat fast foods.

“You have a hard day at work, and trying to get a nutritious meal on the table can be overwhelming and expensive,” she says. “It can be difficult to raise healthy kids without adequate resources.”

Fresh produce is pricey, but low-salt frozen and canned vegetables are less expensive alternatives.

Parents can also take time to de-stress, which will be beneficial for everyone, Mackey says.

It’s not just lack of physical activity and the wrong food that lead to obesity, says Nancy Copperman, RD. She is the director of public health initiatives at the North Shore-LIJ Health System in Great Neck, N.Y. “We often don’t think of other lifestyle or social factors when we talk about obesity with families.”

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