Childhood Obesity and Stress

Most adults still have nightmares that they are in class to take a finals test they haven’t studied for. Children and teenagers sometimes have that as a reality for a variety of reasons. How we help them handle all of life’s stress is part of our job as parents.

Not Just Obese: All children are at risk for stress and the related problems. Being overweight adds to it but it doesn’t necessarily mean that a thinner child feels less. There are numerous reasons for this problem.

What Causes the Problem: Some of it is big events. A death in the family, parental divorce or a parent losing a job are causes. Children pick up on emotional cues from the people around them.

There are some things we might consider small. Forgetting an assignment isn’t the same as a death in the family but it is embarrassing and has an impact on grades. Even positive events cause stress. Getting ready for the prom is exciting but I remember worrying about my dress, my hair and how people would react.

Parental Stress: As mentioned the emotions of parents have a large effect on the children. It doesn’t matter if the problem isn’t discussed in front of the kids. The kids still know there’s a problem. Sometimes (and depending on the age) it’s better if the children do know what’s going on, especially if the situation is fairly minor.

How it Relates: Almost everyone has a set of comfort foods. These foods tend to be the kind that add pounds without adding much in the way of nourishment. Children have the same cravings and unless there is a plan in place this will move them closer to obesity.

Teaching Management: This is not a job for the teachers. It’s our job as parents. You can practice as you teach in order to reduce your own levels. There are many methods and some work better for children than others. Deep breathing practice is probably the best and easiest way, especially for younger children. Older children may be able to use meditation successfully.

This is a serious problem that needs serious attention. Knowing that children feel and react similar to adults can help us keep them at a healthy weight.