Childhood stress may be associated with later weight gain, study finds

A new study has found that children who experience a number of stressful life events have nearly a 50 percent higher risk of being overweight by age 15, reports Reuters

Mothers of children enrolled in the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development responded to questionnaires on the occurrence and impact of negative life events when their children were 4, 9 and 11 years old.

Negative life events fell within four categories: family health problems; work, school or financial stability; family structure, routine and caregiving; and the emotional stability of family relationships.

Of the 848 children included in the study, 30 percent of the overweight children had lived through a significant number of stressful live experiences, compared to 22 percent of children who were not overweight.

The associations were particularly strong for events related to family physical or mental health, and for children whose mothers were obese or had to wait longer for food.

The study, “Overweight Adolescents and Life Events in Childhood,” was published online this week in the journal Pediatrics.