Parents who are stressed out could be negatively impacting their children’s health, according to a new study published in the journal, Pediatrics, for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
The report followed 2,119 parents or caregivers of children ages three to 17 in the Philadelphia area for the 2006 Southeastern Pennsylvania Household Health Survey/Community Health Database.
In telephone surveys, parents and caregivers were questioned about their education level, physical and mental health, real and imagined stressors, and the amount and quality of sleep.
According to the report, the many challenges parents face throughout the day showed a tendency to impact what type of food lands on the dinner table at the end of the day.
“The number of parent stressors was directly related to child obesity,” said the report. “Parent-perceived stress was directly related to child fast-food consumption, an important behavioral indicator of obesity risk.”
Surprisingly, parent stress was not linked to the volume of vegetables and fruit eaten in the selected homes.
The study found that children of parents under great financial stress had higher rates of obesity, similar to children in single-parent homes.
Twenty-five percent of the children involved were considered obese.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the past 30 years, obesity among children has tripled.
In 1980, 7 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 11, and 5 percent of children between the ages of 12 and 19 were considered obese.
Today, that number is 20 percent for 6 to 11-year-olds, and 18 percent for Americans aged 12 to 19.
Not to be confused with being “overweight,” obesity, according to the CDC, means a person has a body fat level excessively beyond their ideal body weight.
The term “overweight” refers to a person who weighs more than they should, according to the averages for their height. Being overweight can be a result of too much “fat, muscle, bone, water, or a combination of these factors.”
Both types of weight issues are directly tied to a “caloric imbalance” where the body does not spend the amount of calories taken into the body.
Obesity has been proven to open the body up to a host of other health issues such as diabetes, several cancers, hypertension, heart disease, and stroke.
Frequent exercise and a healthy diet are simple ways to ward off obesity, stress, and many of the related diseases.