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Can an Argumentative Family Have a Long-Lasting Effect on Childhood Obesity?

A new study published in Preventive Medicine is making an interesting new claim: constant family arguing can have a long-lasting impact on childhood obesity in girls.

The study’s lead author, Dr. Daphne Hernandez, looked into the main causes of stress in families: arguments, what happens after a family member gets divorced, remarried or incarcerated, financial stresses and poor maternal health. She then compared these causes of stress with the weight of the children in the surveyed families.

The study found girls from families who had constant arguments — independent of the other stress factors mentioned above — were overweight or obese before turning 18. It wasn’t the same for boys — only poor maternal health led boys to become obese, the study said.

But when you combine all the causes of stress together and compare it to the children’s weights, Hernandez said both boys and girls became obese when there was stress in the home. She said this is because your body seeks cortisol — commonly called “the stress hormone” — when it’s worried or stressed, which can lessen your ability to feel satiated and make you want to eat more, Time magazine reported. You can learn more about the new study here.

Our seminal research report, Go Out and Play, was the first study to document the benefit of sports to the wellness of families, with a central focus on how the intersections among families, schools and communities are related to children’s involvement and interest in athletics and physical activity.

Major finding on how sports positively affect families from Go Out & Play:

1. Sports Are an Asset for U.S. Families, and Families Are a Resource for Young Athletes: Children’s involvement with sports is associated with higher levels of family satisfaction. Youth sports can help build communication and trust between parents and children. Sports help parents and children spend more time together. The positive connections are particularly evident in dual-parent families, but they also resonate in single-parent family

Learn more about the Go Out & Play report and more of the Foundation’s vast library of research studies here.