LOS ANGELES — Children of parents reporting more psychosocial stress in their lives are more likely to have obesity than children of less stressed parents, according to a poster presentation at ObesityWeek.
“We were interested in this study to try to understand the home environment characteristics and the parental influences on child health,” Carmen R. Isasi, MD, PhD, of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, told Endocrine Today. “One of the major health conditions for Latino children is obesity, which is the reason we set up this study.”
Carmen R. Isasi
In the SOL Youth study, Isasi and colleagues analyzed data from the children of participants in the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos, a study funded by the National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute of the National Institutes of Health. Of the 1,477 children aged 8 to 16 years, 473 participated in this substudy with their caregivers. Half the children were girls, and 55% were aged 12 years or younger; all resided in the Bronx, New York; Chicago; Miami or San Diego. Overall, 27% of girls and 31% of boys had obesity, defined as BMI greater than the 95th percentile for their age and sex. The parents, who were predominantly immigrants from Latin American countries and mostly low income, completed the chronic stress burden scale questionnaire, which indicates their stress levels relating to finances, caregiving, relationships and health, among others, that lasted more than 6 months.
Researchers found parental stress and child obesity prevalence related in “pretty much a dose response,” Isasi said. Among the parents, 22% reported experiencing no chronic stress, 48% reported one or two chronic stressors, and 29% reported three or more. About 20% of the children of parents reporting no stress had obesity, with the proportion rising to 34% among children of parents indicating three or more stressors. After model adjustment, the children of the most stressed parents were twice as likely to have obesity as children of the parents under the least stress (OR=2.13; 95% CI, 1.2-3.9).
“This is the same for boys and girls, although it seems more pronounced in boys,” Isasi said. “We need to investigate more about that, but this difference gets translated into a multivariate analysis with potential confounders, like the [socioeconomic status] of the family, age and sex, and you see that there is a trend of more pronounced obesity for boys and almost none for girls. We don’t know why yet.”
The implications of the study are twofold, according to Isasi. Firstly, parents must be mindful that their own stress level affects not only their own health, but that of their children; they could benefit from stress-reducing strategies. Second, health care providers should consider chronic or psychosocial stress an important risk factor for children’s health and incorporate stress prevention into their treatment strategies. – by Jill Rollet
Isasi C, et al. Abstract T-P-3745-DT. Presented at: ObesityWeek; Nov. 2-6, 2015; Los Angeles.
Disclosure: Isasi reports no relevant financial disclosures.