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Psychological Stress and Obesity
Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Pediatrics . Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.
Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Pediatrics . Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.
Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Pediatrics . Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine. Östergötlands Läns Landsting, Centre of Paediatrics and Gynecology and Obstetrics, Department of Paediatrics in Linköping. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.
2008 (English)In: Journal of Pediatrics, ISSN 0022-3476, E-ISSN 1097-6833, Vol. 153, no 6, 839-844 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Objective: To examine whether there is a relationship between psychological stress in the family and obesity in 5- to 6-year-old children.

Study design: A total of 7443 Swedish families reported on psychological stress across 4 domains as part of the prospective All Babies in Southeast Sweden-project (ABIS). Domains assessed included serious life events, parenting stress, lack of social support, and parental worries. These variables were summarized in cross-sectional and longitudinal composite measures of psychological stress. Logistic regression models were used to calculate odds ratios for childhood obesity for psychological stress.

Results: A total of 4.2% of the children were obese according to age-adjusted international standards. Children from families that reported stress in at least 2 of the 4 domains assessed had significantly higher adjusted odds ratios (OR) for obesity, both cross-sectionally (OR, 2.1; 95% CI, 1.3-3.5; P < .01.) and longitudinally (OR, 2.6; 95% CI, 1.3-5.4, P < .01).

Conclusion: Psychological stress in the family may be a contributing factor for childhood obesity. This finding underscores how important it is to give children with obesity and their families psychological and social support in addition to recommendations about changing life style.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2008. Vol. 153, no 6, 839-844 p.
Keyword [en]
Serious life events, Parenting stress, Social support, Parental worries
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-16250DOI: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2008.06.016OAI: diva2:133520
Original Publication: Felix Koch, Anneli Sepa and Johnny Ludvigsson , Psychological Stress and Obesity, 2008, JOURNAL OF PEDIATRICS, (153), 6, 839-844. Copyright: Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam Available from: 2009-02-23 Created: 2009-01-09 Last updated: 2011-01-11Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Stress and Obesity in Childhood
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Stress and Obesity in Childhood
2009 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[sv]
Stress och fetma i barndomen
Abstract [en]

Childhood obesity is a serious health problem and prevalence increases dramatically around the world, including Sweden. The aim of the current thesis was to examine parents’ and children’s stress in relation to childhood obesity. Parenting stress, social support, parental worries, and serious life events, as well as children’s temperament, self-esteem, body dissatisfaction, saliva cortisol, weight and height were measured to estimate stress and the relation between stress and childhood obesity. Data was collected as part of the cohort project All Babies in Southeast Sweden (ABIS) which main aim is to understand the causes of Type 1 Diabetes. All 21700 children born between October 1997 and October 1999 in Southeast Sweden and their parents were invited to participate and questionnaires were completed for 16070 children at birth. Questionnaires were then collected at follow-ups at 1 year (N=11078), at 2-3 years (N=8803), at 5-6 years (N=7443), and at 8 years (N=3959). The main findings were a relation between parents’ psychological stress and lower self-esteem of children, a relation between parenting stress and higher cortisol levels of children, and a relation between children’s body dissatisfaction and lower self-esteem. Another main finding was a relation between cumulative psychological stress and an increased prevalence of childhood obesity. The current thesis summarized these results, found good validity of the instruments, and the analyses did not indicate any systematic attrition due to stress. It is concluded that the psychological variables reported by parents can be used as proxies for children’s experience of stress in epidemiological studies such as ABIS, and that psychological stress seems to be a contributing factor in childhood obesity. This relation needs to be studied further in order to better understand and intervene in the current epidemic of childhood obesity. These findings may also help to better examine if psychological stress and childhood obesity are contributing factors in the etiology of Type 1 Diabetes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2009. 85 p.
Linköping University Medical Dissertations, ISSN 0345-0082 ; 1100
Psychological stress, parents, children, obesity, self-esteem, body dissatisfaction, epidemiology
National Category
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-16926 (URN)978-91-7393-697-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2009-03-13, Berzeliussalen, Campus US, ingång 65, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 09:00 (English)
Alla Barn i Sydöstra Sverige - ABIS
Available from: 2009-03-06 Created: 2009-02-25 Last updated: 2009-08-21Bibliographically approved

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