SHOCKING connection: Childhood stress linked to poor heart health, obesity later in life

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childhood-stress(NaturalHealth365)  When seeking health information online, you’re likely to encounter the term “cardiometabolic health.”  This scientific expression encompasses risk factors associated with the heart, blood vessels, and the circulation of blood within the body.

Contrary to common belief, the determinants of cardiometabolic health aren’t solely linked to adult activities.  A recent article featured in the Journal of the American Heart Association sheds light on the connection between stress experienced during childhood and increased susceptibility to conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.

Childhood stress and cardiometabolic health: Insights from a Southern California study

The aforementioned findings are derived from an analysis of the Southern California Children’s Health Study, encompassing 276 individuals who, along with their parents, enrolled during their formative years.

The study authors conducted a follow-up assessment at an average age of 13, followed by another assessment in young adulthood at an average age of 24.

In assessing childhood stress for the study, the Perceived Stress Scale, a questionnaire comprising four items related to participants’ thoughts and feelings, was utilized.

Participants were categorized into four distinct risk-based cohorts:

  1. One group experienced consistently elevated stress.
  2. The second cohort encountered progressively increasing stress.
  3. The third cohort enjoyed stress reduction.
  4. The final group was relatively stress-free.

To evaluate cardiometabolic risk during young adulthood, measurements of artery girth in the neck and diastolic and systolic blood pressure were taken.  Additionally, the scientists measured participants’ blood sugar levels to assess proper blood flow.

It’s time for parents and kids to be cognizant of the risk posed by childhood stress

Peers of adolescents experiencing stress were found to have a lower likelihood of developing cardiometabolic risk factors, such as high blood pressure and obesity.  These factors, often occurring together, contribute cumulatively to the risk of heart disease in adulthood.  Beyond obesity and high blood pressure, additional cardiometabolic risk factors encompass excessively high cholesterol levels and prediabetes, also known as type 2 diabetes.

Individuals who underwent elevated stress levels from their teenage years into adulthood were significantly more prone to experiencing deteriorating vascular health.  This deterioration affected the blood vessels and veins responsible for transporting blood and nutrients throughout the body.  Stressed individuals were also more likely to be overweight, particularly with subcutaneous fat accumulating in the midsection around digestive organs.  Additionally, these individuals exhibited a higher likelihood of elevated diastolic and systolic blood pressure.

Tips to minimize your child’s stress

The researchers emphasize that taking proactive measures early in life proves more effective than intervention at later stages.  While your child may find enjoyment in fast-paced video games, spanning from shoot-em-up warfare simulations to hectic racing games, these digital experiences have been linked to increased stress and blood pressure.  Encourage your child to explore healthier habits, such as playing a sport, meditation, creative Lego-building projects, or engaging in other stimulating activities like, reading, writing or cooking.

Resist the urge to express work-related complaints or engage in arguments with your significant other in front of your children.  Keeping such disagreements behind closed doors helps shield your kids from the stress associated with work and relationships, contributing to better overall outcomes for them.  Best of all, lead by example.

Show your kids the importance of respect, gratitude and joy for life.  This is a great recipe for less stress and better health.

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