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High stress equals high fat for kids

August 18, 2003|Jane E. Allen | Times Staff Writer

Stressed kids are more likely to go for high-fat foods and snacks than their placid peers, regardless of whether they respond to anxiety by eating more or less than usual.

A study of 4,320 British schoolchildren found a strong relationship between stress and fatty foods. Those 11-year-olds who were the most stressed ate nearly twice as much fatty food as their less anxious classmates. They also were bigger snackers, often at the expense of starting off the day with a good breakfast.

At the same time, they "were also less likely to consume the recommended five or more fruits and vegetables a day and eat a daily breakfast," said Jane Wardle, director of Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Unit.

She and her colleagues based their findings on a standard test measuring the youngsters' stress levels and an assessment of their eating patterns.

The researchers found that overall, black students had the worst eating habits, Asian students had the best and white children placed in the middle.

The report appears in the August issue of the journal Health Psychology.

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