Parental Stress Linked To Child Obesity

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PHILADELPHIA (UPI) — Stressed-out parents are more likely to have obese children, U.S. researchers suggest.

“Stress in parents may be an important risk factor for child obesity and related behaviors,” Dr. Elizabeth Prout-Parks, a nutrition specialist at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia who was the study leader, said in a statement. “The severity and number of stressors are important.”

Among the parental stressors associated with childhood obesity were poor physical and mental health, financial strain and leading a single-parent household, Prout-Parks added.

The researchers analyzed self-reported data from 2,119 parents and caregivers who participated in telephone surveys in the 2006 Southeastern Pennsylvania Household Health Survey/Community Health Database.

The households contained children ages 3-17, among whom 25 percent were obese. Among the variables included were parental stressors, parent-perceived stress, age, race, health quality and gender of children, adult levels of education, body mass index, gender, sleep quality.

The study, scheduled to be published in the November issue of the journal Pediatrics, found of the measured stressors, single-parent households had the strongest relationship with child obesity, while financial stress had the strongest relationship for a child not being physically active.

Neither parent stressors nor parent-perceived stress was associated with decreased fruit and vegetable consumption by their children, but there was an association between parent-perceived stress and more frequent fast-food consumption by children.

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