Two behavioral studies about high BMI, SES, and stress

The Am. Psychological Association journal Health Psychology, published two articles of interest to behavioral professionals who treat people with weight problems in the Feb., 2016, issue.

Socioeconomic modifiers of genetic and environmental influences on body mass index in adult twins” reports on research that studied over 6,000 twin pairs, with a focus on how BMI is influenced by SES.  The results find that “when SES is higher, genetic factors become less influential,” and “both genetic and environmental variance decreased with increasing SES.”

Exercise mitigates cumulative associations between stress and BMI in girls age 10 to 19,” followed up on previous studies that have found associations between stress and BMI as children transition to adulthood. The authors concluded, “As hypothesized, in girls who maintained long-term activity, BMI growth was mitigated, even when reporting high long-term stress, compared with less physically active girls. This study adds to a converging literature in which physical activity, a modifiable prevention target, functions to potentially limit the damaging health effects of long-term psychological stress.”

These studies support attending to SES and stress for people with excessive weight, or at risk, and helping them with behavioral changes, especially exercise, to help mitigate weight risk factors. This information may also be used when marketing behavioral health care services to PCPs and other medical practices.

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