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Taking stress off kids could lower obesity rates

July 28, 2011 by  

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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  • http://deleted Claire

    Most kids of today could not handle the way I was raised. Getting up at 5:00 a.m. to help with the chores on the farm before I caught the bus to go to school. There are many times I think kids that are raised on a farm have an advantage over city kids. Most learn to work and work hard. Perhaps the answer to this situation to the entire situation is to keep kids busy, but this is another debatable situation since I know a few kids that simply do not listen to their parents and they defy them outright. If my kids defied me, they would take a trip behind the barn or the garage. Of course, the family scenario that parents project has a lot to do with obesity. And then again, there is the hereditary factor? Stress? That can be a debatable subject. A vast majority of kids lay on the couch watching TV, on their cell phones, or fiddling with those silly games. I do not see many kids playing outside. If possible, the parents should promote good eating habits and good food, but it is hard if they are on a shoestring budget or have next to no money at all. Plus the fact that if parents are having financial/marriage problems, stress will be prevalent.
    I read on the Internet yesterday that some hotels, restaurants, etc. are banning kids. I have to admit I do not like hearing screaming kids in the grocery store, etc. If I go to a restaurant, and a hostess seats me, I will not be placed by a table that has kids. Times have changed, nothing is like it “used to be.”

    • C. R.

      Shoe-string budget? Hardly why poor food habits are there. I came from a very large family and we had very, very little money, but the food on the table was nourishing if not lavish – protein, vegetables, fruit and water (milk if you wanted, I did not and still don’t as not healthy). Dessert was only on payday when my parents purchased a box of cookies which didn’t go far with 10 kids! We also canned fresh foods for the winter when they would not be available or were too costly. So, little money spent the right way feeds well. I see money spent on pizzas and other junk food which is very expensive! These foods leave the body open to not only obesity but a lot of health problems. But, hey, as a health consultant, it keeps me in business!

      • CJM

        Even so, today’s prices prohibit the art of canning and cooking from ‘scratch.’ I always knew what my children were eating because I baked my own breads, biscuits, etc–but visiting the market today, most ingredients are out of reach. Example: Graham crackers are $4/box; Flour is $2.50 – $3.95/5lb bag; Sugar now at $3+/5lb bag; Eggs $1.69/dz. This items were much lower back then. Problem is that wages have stagnated and, even when the prices were low, wages have not increased with the wages; what has occurred is the loss of purchasing power for the ordinary consumer. I would buy celery, different lettuces, tomtoes, carrots, peppers, etc–the children could snack on these ad lib; with today’s prices I can only look at them and move on with purchasing only the essentials. Yes, looking back is great, but it doesn’t apply to today.

  • TIME

    Hello,
    Just take away the computer games, the Telie, and the Bag O Fries of anything they stuff in their fat little faces.

    Make them do something other than sit on their fat little ASS’S, like work of some kind.
    During this last winter not a single kid could be found after the snow, not a single one! When I was a kid that spelled making money, so we were out with snow shovels and making MONEY.

    We also used to climb tree’s, swim in the lake, run around and do stuff all the time. Now you never see kids anywhere but the Bloody Mall’s in pants that are falling off their fat ass’s, or with hats that are not centered on their mindless little heads.
    And what ever it is they speak no one knows, nor cares to know.

    When the “YOUTH are brain dead” the nation is DOOMED.

    Please look around, we would be lucky have one out of twenty that has any drive, or can even think for themself.

    Stress, what bloody STRESS! Give me a break.

    • libertytrain

      I agree with you for the most part, but, I also believe when essentially all women were forced to go to work in the early 70′s, we lost all hope that our children could be as we were – playing outside, shoveling snow, cutting lawns. Because from their birth they are in daycare, then school, then after-school programs, little supervision – -and now all those extra classes are being cut like PE and sports etc… Life had been changed and not in a particularly good way. We did not improve – we went backwards.

      • Ellen

        While there is good in women having career choices, there is definitely bad, too. Most moms have to work today regardless of their desire to work or stay home and the kids suffer. In homes where they are living off welfare, the situation is even worse. Many of the moms don’t work but they live in unsafe areas where kids can’t go outside to play. Mom cares more about men and drugs than about her kids and the kids know it. This is a huge stressor. Most black teens that get pregnant are trying to have a baby so someone will love them. What does that say about their moms? It’s been known for decades that black dads are absent from their kids’ lives, but black moms are absent, too, in most welfare homes. This is also why 49% of black kids drop out of high school – because no one cares. No one cares if they succeed or fail and failure is much easier. Wouldn’t any of us be stressed if we thought no one loved us?

      • Nan E Puckett

        libertytrain, you got it right! The link to childhood obesity & mom going to work is irrefutable. And talk about stress at home! When mom has to rush home, take Johnny or Susie to soccer or piano, pick ‘em up, oversee homework, throw in a load of laundry, pay the bills–the list is endless–who can blame her if she heads to the drive-thru for a burger! Does that make her a bad parent, or just one who is stressed to the nines?! If all these whiners & food police REALLY wanted to make a difference in kids’ lives, they’d give mom a tax credit for staying home! AND if the feminists would stop insisting that the only way a woman can be fulfilled is at a job, which is a load of crap, since being a wife & mother is the most difficult, yet fulfilling, job of all, then we’d see a healthier and HAPPIER generation of kids (& adults, I might add!).

        • libertytrain

          Nan – I believe in equality and I believe in our rights as women and even belonged to NOW back in the day when things were hopping. However, it’s only now that I’ve really begun to feel that it was all kind of bogus in so many ways. They got us all working – many at jobs we never would have wanted, we had to buy more cars, more gas more oil, created a whole new world of child care…kids having to be left alone because moms had to work now – there was no choice anymore, unless you wanted to be a welfare mom and I don’t want to go there right now. And it was a full-time, quality job we could have had if we would have been allowed to be the mother’s that many, many wished they could be. It’s interesting that so many women of high paying jobs are now trying to find ways to be the kind of mother their grandmothers were. Slap me if you want…I don’t care. I lived it and experienced it and this is becoming my evaluation of what happened to us and to the detriment of the children. Give me reasons not to conclude same.

  • s c

    PLND, you worded the title of this topic wrong. First, America’s kids are PAMPERED. If they’re stressed, they’re taking too many prescription drugs and chugging too much sugar-laced or HFCS-laced pop and eating the wrong foods.
    Second, America’s ultraliberal progressives have screwed-up the schools so bad that it should be considered CHILD ABUSE to put kids in a public school. Beyond that, if parents aren’t willing to be PARENTS, then it’s no wonder that the nation’s schools have been co-opted by domestic enemies who aren’t fit to sweep floors in a public school.
    They’ve had since 1957 to get it right. THEY”LL NEVER GET IT RIGHT. They’re dumbing-down generations of entitlement voters who don’t know the difference between freedom and slavery.
    Thanks for NOTHING, ultraliberal progressives, ‘Republicans’ and ‘experts’ [like John Dewey] who know NOTHING about education.
    Homeschool, private school or church school! Public education is a FRAUD that failed many years ago. The results of the last election prove that.

  • kodster5

    Take away the over-processed junk they’re fed, get them away from GMO containing foods (which is a helluva lot in today’s foods), and back to the types of foods we used to eat when we were kids (around the advent of TV dinners), and watch the weight fall off! That’s the problem, in a nutshell. Ever since Monsanto, et al, got involved in modifiying our seed, etc., the injecting of growth hormones and antibiotics into our livestock and poultry, etc., to make our food production bigger, faster, etc, is when we started having obesity problems. Our natural foods have been so damned messed up, where did they think this crap was going to end up? We’re at the end of the food chain, and we’re suffering for it the most!

  • C. R.

    Children and young adults do not have any idea of what real stress is. We who are older do. We walked to school or took a public bus. We had scads of homework and no TV until after housework and homework done. We were taught how important education is so we studied and learned all we could so we could get a decent job and move out of house and start our own lives long before 25 yrs. of age. We played outdoors after all was done to get sunlight and exercise whether we wanted to or not!

    Each time we travel in Asia our children should see the stress there on children to study, study, study, and the long, long school hours. No wonder Asians are smarter and harder workers than ours. They also honor their parents and elders. They don’t expect everything to be handed to them. They come to the US and continue to study and work hard. Yes, they have down time but they know their future depends on themselves, not on a government or handouts or entitlements. Their learning ethics is what we also learned as children.

    Obesity? Yes, because children today have money to spend on junk food or the parents buy it. Parents don’t cook so processed garbage goes on the table whether it is pizza, frozen foods, or canned foods. Dessert is expected. Vegetables rejected. Get real. Habits start in the home with poor foods on the table or in the cabinets, and handing out money for children not doing anything for housework, but sitting in front of the TV or computer, or on a mobile phone texting. How can parents afford these things and cry they are poor is beyond me. The kids are ungrateful for everything and rude into the bargain. You are trained as a child in the home and then attend public schools who allow this stuff and this includes colleges!

    • CJM

      I don’t know what utopian society you are speaking of CR, but your description of an American family does not reflect the majority of them. So glad you can afford those trips to Asia, because the majority of American families are doing good to have a picnic at the local park–provided, of course, it isn’t over-run with druggies and alkies. Parents do put decent food on the plate, they serve what they can afford. They aren’t stupid, they know there are other foods, but who can afford them? Don’t you think it’s obscene to charge $1.69 for ONE green pepper or $2 for ONE red pepper? I do–and it is disconcerting to see that when these overpriced veggies sit day after day until they wilt, the grocer tosses them in the garbage. Ditto for all those other fresh goodies most can only look at and not buy. So don’t go after the parents. There are no neighborhood jobs like we used to have; snowblowers, weedeaters, and the ilk have replaced the need for children looking for odd jobs to earn a buck or two. Furthermore, it isn’t safe to let your child play in his own yard anymore…too many predators. Times are different than yesteryear; there is no comparison of today and back then.

  • http://www.trueffort.com meg

    stress is not the first thing that comes to mind when i think of kids…

  • CJM

    This obcession over obesity is counterproductive and always has been. We have been through the Twiggy fashion, children developed eating disorders, and most children aren’t even obese—but many are over-weight. News media and the white house focus on the small percentage of children who truly are obese and fail to look at the larger picture. It’s really a pain in the derrier when one sees an over-weight first lady telling everyone else if they don’t feed the children to her way of thinking, the children will be forcibly removed from the home. Yes, things were different when we were growing up–I wouldn’t let my children roam the neighborhood today because it is no longer safe. With both parents having to work in order to maintain a home and family, what does the government expect? Prices have always been higher than wages, but our purchasing power has been drastically reduce and it’s been that way for at least 10 years. Who can afford quality veggies and fruits these days? I sure can’t, so I buy what I can, hoping for the best. And no, I’m not over-weight, obese, or a twiggy.

  • clipper1

    CJM and others; I must agree with much of what I have read in the blog. One of the first things we must ALL remember is that govt. is at the base of most of our problems and to get a decent society going again govt. must be put back under control! Obesity starts as soon as a child starts eating solid food (it actually starts with baby food both liquid and solid). The government, working through the FDA requires preservatives (poison) to be added to all foods that are processed by food companies. These poisons keep fats and long chain fatty acids from being digested and drawn off at the “top” of the bowel and therefore they get drawn off into the blood stream at the bottom of the digestive chain and, if insulin is in the blood stream (and it almost always is) the fatty acids go almost immediately into fat cell storage. Fatty acids (components of energy molecules) are meant to be energy food and by chemical manipulation through government edict are caused to start a chain of events which leads to diabetes, heart disease, dimentia, and other dangerous conditions, all leading to early death. Once again, by not learning and thinking before allowing govt. to restrict and destroy we allow the govt. to create crisis which the govt. then uses to further restrect and destroy our rights, children as well.

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