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Worried kids become fatter adults
11 Sep 2009 | Emotional anxiety in childhood increases risk of obesity
| 11 September 2009

A UK study to be published in BMC Medicine has looked at data on 6,500 people enrolled in the 1970 British Birth Cohort Study and found that those who had emotional difficulties as children are more likely to become obese as adults. The childhood worries include feelings of lack of control and low self-esteem, and are not, of course, the only factor (diet, physical activity and parental BMI are significant) – but they do have an impact on future weight gain. The correlation is slightly stronger among girls than among boys.

The research is novel because, according to Professor David Collier, of King’s College London, to date ‘obesity has been regarded as a medical metabolic disorder – what we've found is that emotional problems are a risk factor for obesity’.

Another of the authors of the study, Andrew Ternouth, commented that ‘Strategies to promote social and emotional aspects of learning, including the promotion of self-esteem, are central to a number of recent policy initiatives’, and that ‘Our findings suggest that approaches of this kind may carry positive benefits for physical health as well as for other aspects of children's development.’

Source: BBC News online, 11 September 2009.