Some child obesity fueled by stress response

May 27, 2014, CBS News

Children who struggle with stress by heading for the cookie jar are more likely to gain body fat, a finding that shows why it’s important to handle stress in more positive ways, European researchers say.

On May 24 at the European Congress on Obesity held in Sofia, Bulgaria, researchers presented a study on the link between children’s stress, hormones, diet, and increasing body fat or adiposity.

In a three-year study of about 500 elementary school children, those with high levels of the stress hormone cortisol and who turned to food for comfort gained body fat, Natalie Michels of the public health department at Ghent University in Belgium and her colleagues found. Continue reading

Childhood trauma may contribute to teen weight problems

Nov. 13, 2013, Reuters

By Shereen Jegtv

Children who have gone through trying times are more likely to be overweight by age 15, a new study suggests.

Stress in childhood has been associated with a greater risk of becoming overweight, although the link isn’t always consistent from study to study, researchers said.

“I felt like I was seeing a lot of children who had experienced stress early in their lives later gain weight pretty rapidly” Dr. Julie Lumeng at the University of Michigan Medical School told Reuters Health.

“There has been quite a bit of research looking at stress in the lives of adults leading to weight gain, but it has not been studied as much in children,” said Lumeng, who led the new study.

“We did this particular study because it looked at simply ‘events’ that had occurred in children’s lives and then asked mothers to rate the events in terms of how much of an impact they had,” Lumeng said. Continue reading

Exercise may help protect children from stress

March 8, 2013, The New York Times

By Jan Hoffman

Physically active children generally report happier moods and fewer symptoms of depression than children who are less active. Now researchers may have found a reason: By one measure, exercise seems to help children cope with stress.

Finnish researchers had 258 8-year-old boys and girls wear accelerometers on their wrists for at least four days that registered the quality and quantity of their physical activity. Their parents used cotton swabs to take saliva samples at various times throughout a single day, which the researchers used to assess levels of cortisol, a hormone typically induced by physical or mental stress. Continue reading