Stress linked to heavier teen girls

Sept. 21, 2012 at 12:18 AM

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 21 (UPI) -- Higher levels of stress predict greater body weight in black and white girls, but it may have a larger impact on black girls, U.S. researchers say.

Dr. Janet Tomiyama of the University of California, Los Angeles, said the prevalence of obesity in black populations is 50 percent higher than in whites, even in childhood and particularly in female adolescents.

Tomiyama and colleagues used data from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute's Growth and Health Study to assess the prevalence of obesity in 2,379 black and white girls beginning at age 10 and tracked for 10 years. They also analyzed psychological stress over the study period.

The study, published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, found more black girls were overweight or obese than white girls, who reported more stress than black girls, but levels of chronic stress predicted greater weight in both groups.

"Our study documents a relationship between chronic perceived stress and body mass index over a decade of growth in black and white girls," Tomiyama said in a statement. "However, the relationship between perceived stress and BMI is stronger in black girls."

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