Were you an anxious child? Did you worry about things you couldn't control or feel a lowered sense of self-esteem? Perhaps you grew into an adult with the same emotions and are also overweight? New research shows children with anxiety are more likely to develop obesity as an adult.
In the September issue of BMC Medicine, scientists in England looked at 10-year-old children from 1970 and followed them into adulthood looking for a link between their emotional upsets and weight gain. They discovered that the children with a lower self-esteem, those who felt less in control of their lives and those who were often worried were more likely to gain weight over the next two decades.
Not surprisingly, they saw that girls were much more affected than boys.
Addressing emotional concerns at an early age and helping children get the support they need is critical given the large percentage of adults that are overweight or obese.
I see a strong link between anxiety, depression and obesity in my practice as well, especially as an adult. Many women turn to food to fill a missing void and feel comforted. Some are unable to exercise or feel restricted by their emotions. While for many it' s a combination of both. Acting preventively and working with anxiety prone children is a great start so that they grow up feeling supported and confident and less likely to gain unhealthy weight or develop unhealthy habits such as fast-food, no exercise, and smoking.
Being overweight or obese puts you at so many risks for diseases such as cancer, diabetes, arthritis, heart disease and more. Unfortunately, weight is an issue many children have to deal with also, further contributing to their fragile emotional state and putting them at risk for conditions routinely thought of as adult. Now we hear of children developing heart disease or diabetes due to their weight.
Many schools and advocates are working to help childhood obesity by cleaning up school lunches, removing soda, and developing exercise or movement opportunities.