Stress adversely affects our lives in multiple ways. Children too are no exception. A new research has revealed that kids living in stressful and anxious environment are vulnerable to developing obesity.
Scientists believe that children exposed to stressful environment should be taught stress management techniques to remain physically active and healthy.
AdvertisementThe scientists conducted the study at Penn State and John Hopkins University and evaluated the stress levels in kids and how it influenced their chances of gaining weight and becoming obese. The study was published in Appetite Journal.
In order to examine stress levels, the scientists asked children to carry out mathematical task or deliver speeches. Subsequently their saliva samples were tested in laboratory for cortisol level. Cortisol is the stress hormone and is secreted by human body in stressful situations.
After sample collection the kids were asked to play or eat and they were provided with toys and snacks.
The children approximately 'consumed as low as 250 kilocalories and as high as 700 kilocalories during the same time'.
Professor Lori Francis, the Associate Professor of biobehavioral health said, "We found that older kids, ages 8 to 11, who exhibited greater cortisol release over the course of the procedure had significantly higher body-mass indices [BMI] and consumed significantly more calories in the absence of hunger than kids whose cortisol levels rose only slightly in response to the stressor. We also found that kids whose cortisol levels stayed high-in other words, they had low recovery-had the highest BMIs and consumed the greatest number of calories in the absence of hunger."
Prof Francis mentioned, "Our results suggest that some children who are at risk of becoming obese can be identified by their biological response to a stressor. Ultimately, the goal is to help children manage stress in ways that promote health and reduce the risks associated with an over- or under-reactive stress response."
The experts said that people with emotional issues in their childhood, especially females are more susceptible to developing heart ailments during their middle-age.
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) around 17 percent of kids in the United States or 12.5 million teenagers and children are affected by weight gain or obesity.
The scientist concluded that other factors such as poverty or deprivation of proper livelihood, scarcity of food and violent environment at homes can make children vulnerable to developing weight and becoming obese.