The Effects of Stress: New Study Points to Obesity

A new study by Iowa State University claims that higher stress levels in teens can directly contribute to childhood obesity. The study identified teen “stressors” such as academic problems, consumption of drugs and alcohol, depression or poor mental health levels, acting out or aggressive behaviors, and lack of future plans, and said that teens with more of these “stressors” were more likely to be overweight and obese.

According to the study, 47% of teens in the sample were overweight or obese, but that percentage increased to 56.2 % among those who were impacted by four or more stressors.

What I find interesting, and somewhat confusing, about this study is that while the study calls things like low grades, aggressive behavior, and drug and alcohol use different causes of stress, it seems to me that these could also be seen as symptoms or results of stress.

Chill: Stress-Reducing Techniques for a More Balanced, Peaceful YouAs I wrote about my book for teens on stress-relief, Chill, teens are experiencing chronic stress in unprecedented levels, and this stress results in lots of different negative emotional, mental, and physical side-effects. That includes things like overeating (or undereating for that matter), as well as depression, distraction, lack of motivation, and engaging in risky behavior.

Whether they’re causes or results of stress, one thing is for certain – they’re all factors that play a role in the peace and balance today’s teens experience. And when one or more things is seriously off-balance, getting back on solid footing is easier said than done.

One of the keys to dealing with stress is knowing how it impacts us, since we all respond differently to stress. So, I’d like to challenge you to take a minute to think and write about your personal experience with stress by answering the following questions:

  1. What is a stressful situation you have recently experienced?
  2. How did your body respond to the stress? (ie: insomnia, depression, over-eating, etc.)
  3. How did you feel as a result of that response?

Answer these same three questions for a variety of stressful situations, and soon you’ll start to see a pattern for the ways in which your body handles stress. Then, keep coming back to Smart Girls Know: in the coming weeks, I’ll be posting some of the stress-reducing techniques I offer up in Chill just for readers of this blog!

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