The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health reports that obesity rates among adolescents have risen since 1980 because of social problems. Stress-causing events are the most powerful triggers for binge eating, which is contributing to obesity rates.
A study from this year called “Shifting the Lens: A Focus on Stress” revealed that teenagers felt problems with friends and romantic relationships caused stress. However, students said school was the biggest cause.
Regina Park, a sophomore at Village Christian School, told JSR, “I was really stressed out from homework. But after I ate too much, I felt guilty and ashamed.”
A study from the American Psychological Association (APA) from 2014 showed that 27% of stressed teenagers had overeaten at least once because of stress. Twenty three percent had skipped a meal, which can lead to overeating later.
Because we are nurtured with food and rewarded with food from the moment we are born, emotional connections to food are normal. However, excessive consumption of sugary, high-calorie foods is dangerous, overweight teenagers are at risk of major health problems including heart disease, high blood pressure, and some types of cancer.
Moreover, only about a third of teenagers participate in physical activities for stress management. Instead, they choose the sedentary activities such as overeating and watching TV. Yet, those that do work out in order to manage stress report significantly lower stress levels and healthier lifestyles.
When asked about another option she would choose the next time she felt the urge to overeat, Park told JSR, “The next time I’m stressed, I will probably exercise or read a book to deal with the stress.”
Although we are cognizant of the issue, it can be tempting for people to succumb to lethargy and grab ice cream instead of our running shoes when stressed. Yet, the most effective way to reduce stress the next there’s a load of homework is to slip into a pair of shorts and head for the gym.