Family stressors and child obesity

Soc Sci Res. 2009 Dec;38(4):755-66. doi: 10.1016/j.ssresearch.2009.06.002.


Child obesity is a public health priority with numerous and complex causes. This study focuses on factors within the family, namely stressful experiences, which may be associated with child obesity. We examine data from the Child Development Supplement of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics for children in two age groups: 5-11 and 12-17 years old. Results from an ordered probit regression model of child weight categorizations (healthy weight, overweight, obese) indicate positive associations between a range of family stressors (lack of cognitive stimulation and emotional support in the household among younger children, and mental and physical health problems and financial strain in the household among older children) and child overweight and obesity. We discuss how public policies that reduce family stressors may, in turn, help reduce child obesity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Family / psychology*
  • Family Health
  • Female
  • Housing
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Overweight / psychology
  • Parenting
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*