Navigation Links
Kids of Stressed, Low-Income Moms Prone to Weight Problems

Anxiety may prompt the children to eat unhealthy foods, study suggests

TUESDAY, Sept. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Younger children from low-income families who pick up the stress of their anxious mothers often respond by developing poor eating habits that raise their risk of becoming overweight, a new study says.

"Most low-income children in the U.S. are food secure, meaning they have access to a sufficient amount of food," said study lead author Craig Gundersen, an associate professor of agricultural and consumer economics at the University of Illinois. "And we found that children who experience maternal stress and can access food if they're feeling anxious tend to go for the so-called 'comfort foods,' which may not be the most healthy."

About 17 percent of American children between the ages of 2 and 19 are obese, and another 16.5 percent are overweight, the study authors noted.

The new findings, published in the September issue of the journal Pediatrics, were based on a survey of 841 children -- between the ages of 3 and 17-- and their mothers. Statistics collected between 1999 and 2002 by the National Health Nutrition Examination Survey were also reviewed.

All the mothers had incomes below 200 percent of the poverty line. They were asked about maternal stressors such as depression, child-care problems, family and financial difficulties, and health impediments to working. A household's routine access to food was also assessed.

Thirty-seven percent of the children were found to be either overweight or obese; 20 percent to 25 percent lived in low-income families with inadequate access to food -- so-called "food insecure" homes. The researchers found no apparent link between a mother's stress levels and any increased risk of weight problems in "food insecure" households.

But a risk for weight problems was found for children between the ages of 3 and 10 who lived in "food secure" homes, where there was enough food for family members. No such link was found among teens 11 through 17, leaving the researchers to suggest that these children may be more resourceful at finding non-food sources of comfort through school and friends.

So what's a stressed-out, financially strapped mother to do?

"Not to absolve all personal responsibility, but we have to acknowledge that there are some factors that may be beyond an individual's ability to control," Gundersen said. "So with a focus on public policy, there are three important things that can be done. First, we can have a firm social safety net for such households. Second, we can offer financial education to enable people to better understand how to manage their money. And third, we can focus on the importance of making sure everyone has health insurance. So instead of saying here's what mothers can do to alleviate the stress, we're saying here's what we can do as a society."

Lona Sandon, a registered nurse and assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, agreed that a broad societal response could help address the links between poverty, stress, and poor childhood nutrition.

"It's a big problem because, quite frankly, for many [people] eating healthy is a kind of luxury," she said. "Those with a limited income -- even food secure families -- find that often it's cheaper to go to fast food than to buy fresh produce or fresh meat. Or they perceive that to be the case, because they don't know how to purchase healthier foods on a low budget. So, they end up consuming high-fat, high-calorie items."

"The last thing you're going to worry about is whether your child is obese if you're busy trying to take care of physical needs first, like simply putting a roof over your head," she added.

More information

For more on childhood nutrition, visit the National Institutes of Health.

SOURCES: Craig Gundersen, Ph.D., associate professor, agricultural and consumer economics, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; Lona Sandon, R.D., assistant professor, clinical nutrition, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas; September 2008, Pediatrics

Copyright©2008 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved

Related medicine news :

1. West Coast Bank Sponsors LifeWorks Northwest Programs for Children in Low-Income Housing Communities
2. Low-Income Moms Rarely Speak to Infants During TV/Video Time
3. HHS Provides $40 Million in Energy Assistance to Low-Income Families
4. Study: low-income women more likely to suffer from postpartum depression
5. Area Dentists, University of Detroit Mercy Team Up to Provide Free Dental Care to Low-Income, Uninsured Detroit-Area Children on Saturday, February 2
6. Michigan Dentists Giving Free Dental Care to Low-Income Children During Annual Give Kids a Smile Program Starting February 1
7. Governor Rendell Offers Coverage to 29,000 on AdultBasic Waiting List; Unveils New Policy to Improve Quality of Care for the Low-Income and Pennsylvanians With Disabilities
8. China Nepstar Chain Drugstore Launches Charitable Initiative to Promote Awareness of Low-income Working Womens Health Issues
9. Low-Income Womens Cancer Screenings Cost Effective: Report
10. Study determines costs of breast and cervical cancer detection among low-income women
11. Low-income countries now have free, one-click access to Cochrane Library
Post Your Comments:
(Date:6/26/2016)... , ... June 26, 2016 , ... On June 10-11, ... of the 2016 Cereal Festival and World’s Longest Breakfast Table in Battle Creek, MI, ... the city’s history as home to some of the world’s leading providers of cereal ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... , ... June 26, 2016 , ... PawPaws brand ... new product that was developed to enhance the health of felines. The formula is ... The two main herbs in the PawPaws Cat Kidney Support Supplement Soft ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... Lake Orion, Clarkston, Michigan (PRWEB) , ... June ... ... direction with respect to fertility once they have been diagnosed with endometriosis. These ... tolerable intercourse but they also require a comprehensive approach that can help for ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... ... Austin residents seeking Mohs surgery services, can now turn to Dr. Jessica Scruggs ... for medical and surgical dermatology. , Dr. Dorsey brings specialization to include Mohs surgery, ... Micrographic Surgery completed by Dr. Dorsey was under the direction of Glenn Goldstein, MD, ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... Viejo, California (PRWEB) , ... June 25, 2016 , ... ... to fit their specific project," said Christina Austin - CEO of Pixel Film Studios. ... fully customizable and all within Final Cut Pro X . Simply select a ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... , June 24, 2016   Pulmatrix, Inc ... company developing innovative inhaled drugs, announced today that it ... Russell Investments reconstituted its comprehensive set of U.S. ... "This is an important milestone for Pulmatrix," said ... increase shareholder awareness of our progress in developing drugs ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 Any dentist who has ... of the current process. Many of them do not even ... technical difficulties and high laboratory costs involved. And those who ... it at such a high cost that the majority of ... Dr. Parsa Zadeh , founder of Dental Evolutions ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 23, 2016 Capricor Therapeutics, ... a biotechnology company focused on the discovery, development ... patient enrollment in its ongoing randomized HOPE-Duchenne clinical ... 50% of its 24-patient target. Capricor expects the ... quarter of 2016, and to report top line ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: