Guest Post – Dr. James Bogash, Childhood Obesity Statistics: Parental Stress Matters

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kidsAs parents, we all try to do our best to raise our children with the best of morals and the most ideal of health. No parent looks at their child and thinks, “I love little junior, but I’m going to feed him McDonalds three times per week so he can grow obese and develop heart disease and diabetes.”

Rather, the effects on our kids are more subtle. Take cigarette smoking. We’re all aware of secondhand smoke and how much it interferes with our children’s health. But, if you are smoking parent, are you aware of third hand smoke? That residue that’s left behind on the furniture, your clothing and the dashboard that your child is still exposed to long after that cigarette is extinguished.

Other factors like BPA in plastic water bottles, too much TV / video game time, soda and artificial sweeteners are all on this list as well. All have been linked to weight gain in children.

What about stress? Sure–stress is bad for kids. Makes them lose sleep and raises cortisol levels.

What about stress? Sure–stress is bad for kids. Makes them lose sleep and raises cortisol levels. Of course stress could reasonably contribute to weight gain and poor health in our children. The transition from junior high to high school is considered one of the most stressful periods in an adolescent’s life.

Actually, I meant parental stress.

There is no doubt that we live in a society that is more stressed than ever. Work, financial and family stress seems to affect nearly everyone, and few manage it effectively. But you do a good job of hiding it from your child. Right?

I hear this quite frequently. But, as I always say, kids and dogs are far better at picking up on non-verbal cues than you could ever imagine.

womanWhich brings us to a research article in the November 1, 2012 edition of the journal Pediatrics. Parents were asked about the stressors in their lives as well as how stressed out they felt they were. The researchers then looked at the child’s risk of being obese and how frequently they took in fast food.

Here’s what they found:

• Children whose parents with a higher number of stressors were 12% more likely to be obese.

• Children whose parents have higher levels of perceived stress were 7% more likely to partake in fast food consumption.

These numbers are not dramatic, but there is no one cause-one cure when it comes to the childhood obesity epidemic. There is no doubt that we all need to spend a little time in retrospection and ask ourselves some hard questions when it comes to our children’s long term health.

For instance, maybe you can’t manage your stress right now, but you need to understand just how important it is to manage it for the long run, not just for you, but for the health of your child. At the least, if you do feel like you live in a state of life similar to Fairfield, CT residents during the heart of Hurricane Sandy, than do your best to make good decisions.

This means no fast food. Planned family meals around the table. Family exercise. Anything that can help to divert the toxic effects of stress that you may be passing on to your child.

JamesBogash– Since acquiring a passion for how the body works in chiropractic school, I have continued to indulge this desire by reading some 120 peer reviewed medical journals per month. I’m always learning more about how to help people avoid chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, dementia, osteoporosis, obesity and cancer, and pass along this information in my blog. There are currently almost 2,000 posts cataloged on almost every health topic imaginable. Click Here for more bio information.