CLEVELAND -- Very young children, especially girls, may be at an increased risk of obesity when certain social risk factors are present.
A new study finds social stressors, such as a mother's depression, a mother's substance abuse, partner violence, unstable housing situations, or lack of food or a father in jail, increased the odds of childhood obesity.
Dr. Deb Lonzer, of Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital, was not part of the study but said, "The study showed that, if kids were impacted by these social stressors at either 1 year of age or 3 years of age, there was an impact on the amount of obesity that was present at 5 years of age."
Researchers analyzed public data for more than 1,600 preschool children and looked for stressors when children were one and three years old.
Results showed 17 percent of children were obese at 5 years old, and young girls with more than one stressor had significantly higher odds of obesity.
The study did not find a link between social stressors and obesity in boys.
"Even at one year of age, kids are aware of the stressors that are around them, so I think that's pretty useful information for us to know that we have to be thinking about these sorts of things, even at young ages," Dr. Lonzer says.
The study can be found in the journal "Pediatrics."