As if parents of young girls didn’t already have enough to worry about, scientists have found a correlation between the amount of stress females experience during childhood and their weight gain as adults.
Researchers analyzed data from more than 2,200 women and 1,300 men who were interviewed four times over 15 years as part of a national survey called Americans' Changing Lives.
The scientists determined that childhood stress included any family-related issues (economic hardship, divorce, single parenting, having a parent with a mental health problem) that occurred up to age 16. Adult stress included factors such as job loss, death of a spouse/partner, parenting and care providing.
Results of the study showed that women with higher levels of childhood stress gained weight more rapidly than those with less childhood stress
However, the study only found a link between childhood stress and later weight gain. There was not a direct cause-and-effect relationship.
Interestingly, there was no such link found among males in the study, suggesting that men deal with stress differently from women—or that their hormones trigger differently in response to negative stimuli.
What to do in the face of this stressful new information? We suggest encouraging kids to get more exercise. Increasing movement has been shown to decrease stress, add muscle, reduce fat and establish healthy habits for dealing with emotional discomfort. Have you noticed a connection between childhood stress and adult weight gain?