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George and Kit O’Neill, Fargo, Published March 24 2014

Letter: Stress a factor in child obesity

The Forum article on March 21 regarding prevention and treatment of obesity in children of low-income families recommends strategies such as choosing healthy foods and increasing physical activity. These efforts are laudable but fail to address a major contributor to childhood obesity – stress.

Research has shown that stress produces higher levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. Cortisol causes the body to store fat more efficiently, and also increases craving for carbohydrates and sugar (which is why people crave “comfort food” when stressed).

Chronic stress has been linked to elevated levels of cortisol. Thus, any real solution to the childhood obesity epidemic must address not only eating habits and exercise but also the stressors inherent in living in poverty.