Parents – chill out. It looks like your stress could be harming your kids in more than one way.
It’s an interesting thought and apparently not a new idea. Previous research shows a connection between parental stress and child obesity, but this new study covered a more diverse population, both ethnically and socioeconomically.
Check this post on Psych Central:
In the new study, investigators discovered parents with a high number of stressors in their lives are more likely to have obese children.
Specifically, researchers determined that when parents perceive themselves to be stressed, their children eat fast food more often, compared to children whose parents feel less stressed. Parental financial stress was also associated with lower levels of physical activity.
“Stress in parents may be an important risk factor for child obesity and related behaviors,” said Elizabeth Prout-Parks, M.D., the leader of a study recently published in journal Pediatrics. “The severity and number of stressors are important.”
Parental stressors linked to childhood obesity include poor physical and mental health, financial strain, and leading a single-parent household, Prout-Parks said.
An article in WebMD expanded on this study published in Pediatrics, with this helpful info:
Some families in the study were more vulnerable to the effect of stress on their weight. These “high-risk” groups include:
- Black/Hispanic children
- Children from single-parent households
- Kids from families that are struggling financially
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.