Familial Financial Strain Linked to Childhood Obesity


A new study suggests family-related stress can be linked to childhood obesity, especially in girls. The study examined three types of family stress: family disruption and conflict (divorce, a parent’s incarceration or death, child suffering violence); financial strain (living below the poverty line, mother’s long period of unemployment); and maternal poor health (mother’s binge drinking, drug use and depression). The longitudinal survey data found that girls who experience family disruption, conflict or financial strain repeatedly between their birth and age 15, were more likely to be overweight or obese by age 18.

This study is revelatory because it demonstrates that the chronic financial and economic stresses that a family experiences can directly affect the physical well-being of their children. Of course, this has huge long term implications for not only the health of children, but for the associated costs of obesity. This means that in order for obesity intervention programs for children to be effective, they should focus on reducing family related stress by offering services that focus on financial stress and its dynamic relationship with physical health.

The Financial Health Institute knows that financial and economic stress impact physical, mental and social well-being. Our training programs focus on understanding why financial stress impacts all areas of our lives and provide tools to alleviate this stress, thereby improving financial and physical wellbeing. These are the kinds of services that would be incredibly effective if integrated into school-based obesity intervention programs. Contact us for more information about our training programs and services.