Unstable home environment may attribute to obesity in girls

Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - 3:44pm

WAC- -- A new pediatric study found that girls living in stressful home environments were far more likely to become obese by age 5.

"One of the biggest stressors that kids are put under, is [if] there's any type of violence between parents. Even if the kids aren't abused, so to say, even if they're aware of the abuse it creates a greater degree of stress," Pediatrician at Providence, Dr. Scott Huitink said.

Doctors say the current research indicates that boys may not be as effected weight wise than girls because they act out as opposed to keeping it inside.

"One of the discussions has been whether or not the boys manifest it more externally or outwardly, with aspects as far as aggression or fighting. And then the girls internalize it and stuff it, and part of that stuffing could be even involving comforting themselves with food," Dr. Huitink said.

In McLennan county that's especially notable considering a high number of children are abused and according to the McLennan County Public Health District, about 4 out of every 10 children in the county are overweight or obese.

But as a pediatrician and parent, Dr. Huitink says the best thing you can do for you child...

"Love your spouse. When kids have that secure environment that is imaged or mirrored to them, they're not going to be under the same degree of stress than a child that's not seeing that played out between adults."

Bottom line, when it comes to kids and stress, doctors say the best thing for them is love, affection, security and playtime.

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