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Stress-Weight Link in Black and White Teen Girls Studied

Last Updated: September 25, 2012.

Increased stress is tied to weight gain in teenage girls, particularly black girls, according to a study published online Sept. 20 in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine.

TUESDAY, Sept. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Increased stress is tied to weight gain in teenage girls, particularly black girls, according to a study published online Sept. 20 in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine.

A. Janet Tomiyama, Ph.D., from University of California in Los Angeles, and colleagues analyzed the dynamic between acute (one month) and chronic (10 years) stress and body mass index (BMI) in 2,379 black and white girls participating in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Growth and Health Study. The girls, from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds, were evaluated from ages 10 to 19 years.

The researchers found that, among the girls, higher levels of stress during the 10-year study period predicted significantly greater increases in BMI over time compared with lower levels of stress. For black girls, the relationship between stress levels and change in BMI was significantly stronger than in white girls.

"This study adds to the idea that racial disparities in obesity are not solely due to socioeconomic status," the authors write. "All of the findings reported here are independent of both parental income and education, and therefore it appears that more work needs to be done to understand the pathways to and moderators of disparities that are unique to race and ethnicity."

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