Developing healthy ways to deal with stress is important to start when kids are young. Children respond differently to stress for a number of reasons and new research suggests that children who have poor response to stress are at a greater risk of becoming obese.
Researchers from Penn State and John’s Hopkins Universities examined children’s response to a stressor which included them delivering a speech and performing a mathematical problem for an audience. They also looked at the degree to which kids ate after they said they had indicated that they were full. After the children were given lunch, they were asked to rate their hunger level. They were given open access to a number of tempting snacks along with some toys and other activities. The researchers left the children alone.
The results of the study indicated that older children (8-11) who had the highest amount of cortisol release during the stressful session, had a correspondingly high body mass index. This kids had also consumed more calories during the free snack period than those whose stress hormone levels were lower. In addition, kids with the lowest recovery rate had the greatest body mass index and ate the most number of snacks.
There are many ways that parents can help children deal with stress. Providing healthy meals and encouraging kids to get plenty of time outside is a great way to build up overall health. Many kids do not get adequate sleep at night so establishing a regular bedtime routine is paramount. In addition, kids who seem to struggle with stress can be given tools and ways to talk about their stress that may help divert some of the tension.
Children who live in poverty or in a highly stressful home where there is violence or addiction, may have a difficult time coping with stress and thus be more prone to obesity.
– The Alternative Daily