The survey, conducted online by Harris Interactive in August 2010, found that overweight children aged 8-17 years are significantly more likely to worry “a great deal” or “a lot,” compared with children of normal weight (31% vs. 14%, respectively). Overweight children also are significantly more likely than their normal-weight counterparts to report the way they look/their weight as something they worry about (36% vs. 11%).
To make matters worse, overweight children were significantly more likely than normal-weight children to report that in the past month they have experienced physical and emotional symptoms of stress such as trouble falling asleep (48% vs. 33%), headaches (43% vs. 28%), eating too much or too little (48% vs. 16%) or feeling angry or getting into fights (22% vs. 13%).
The impact of parental stress is also cause for concern. About 47% of children aged 8-12 years (tweens) say they feel sad and 43% of teens say they feel worried when their parents are stressed.
“America is at a critical crossroads when it comes to stress and our health,” psychologist Norman B. Anderson, Ph.D., APA’s CEO, said in a prepared statement. “Year after year nearly three-quarters of Americans say they experience stress at levels that exceed what they define as healthy, putting themselves at risk for developing chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and depression. … All of us, including the medical community, need to take stress seriously since stress could easily become our next public health crisis.”
— Doug Brunk (on Twitter@dougbrunk)