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Parental Stress Linked to Obesity in Offspring

Last Updated: October 22, 2012.

The number of parent stressors is associated with child obesity, and parent-perceived stress impacts related behaviors, specifically fast-food consumption, according to a study published online Oct. 22 in Pediatrics.

MONDAY, Oct. 22 (HealthDay News) -- The number of parent stressors is associated with child obesity, and parent-perceived stress impacts related behaviors, specifically fast-food consumption, according to a study published online Oct. 22 in Pediatrics.

Using data from the 2006 Southeastern Pennsylvania Household Health Survey, Elizabeth P. Parks, M.D., from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and colleagues assessed associations between the number of parent stressors and parent-perceived stress and obesity and related behaviors in children. A total of 2,119 parents/caregivers answered questions relating to themselves and their 3- to 17-year-old children.

The researchers found that the number of parent stressors was significantly related to child obesity in both unadjusted and adjusted models (odds ratio, 1.12 for both models). Fast-food consumption was significantly linked to parent-perceived stress in both unadjusted and adjusted models (odds ratio, 1.07 and 1.06, respectively).

"These results have public health and clinical implications. Clinical care, research, and other programs addressing child obesity should consider the potential benefits of developing supportive strategies to reduce parent stressors," the authors write. "Additionally, decreasing perceived stress by teaching alternative coping strategies may be beneficial."

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