Taking stress off kids could lower obesity rates

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A new study suggests that social safety net programs aimed at lowering stress for children in low-income families may also reduce obesity.Obesity rates are still on the rise, and that includes childhood obesity. This is leading parents and healthcare providers alike to look for answers on to how to keep children healthy. A new study suggests that social safety net programs aimed at lowering stress for children in low-income families may also reduce obesity.

University of Illinois professor Craig Gunderson claims that along with unhealthy eating habits and low levels of activity, stress about home life also contributes to acquiring extra pounds during childhood.

“Although there have been many different ways to reduce obesity, what we’ve found is that stress is a leading cause of the problem among children. So if there’s any way we can reduce stressors from a policy standpoint, that will also have the effect of reducing obesity,” he said.

Gunderson recommends expanding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to allow more participants to take advantage of it, and to give people more options regarding which foods they can buy. He believes that this will reduce the stress levels of low-income households, which may result in less stress being placed on a child and a stronger social safety net at home. This, combined with more programs to encourage physical activity, could help curb childhood obesity in the U.S.

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