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Stress Management Program Reduces BMI, Depression, Anxiety in Overweight Kids

16 Mar

Researchers from the University of Athens examined the effectiveness of an eight-week stress-management intervention program, which included progressive muscle relaxation, diaphragmatic breathing, guided imagery and cognitive restructuring, in overweight and obese children and adolescents.

Forty-nine children and adolescents (mean age ± SEM: 11.15 ± 1.48 years) were recruited to participate in this randomized controlled study. Of those, 23 participants were assigned into the intervention group, while 26 participants represented the control group. 

Anthropometric measurements were recorded at the beginning and at the end of the study, and participants were asked to complete the Screen for Child Anxiety Related Disorders (S.C.A.R.E.D.), the Child Depression Inventory (C.D.I.), the Child Behavior Checklist (C.B.C.L.) and the Youth Self Report (Y.S.R.).

The applied stress-management methods resulted in a significant reduction in the body mass index (BMI) in the intervention group, as compared with the control group [ΔBMI=1.18 vs 0.10 kg/m2 (p<0.001)]. 

In addition to BMI, these methods ameliorated depression and anxiety, and reduced the internalizing and externalizing problems in the intervention group.

The investigators concluded that the application of an eight-week stress management program can facilitate weight loss in Greek overweight and obese children and adolescents. Additional study with larger numbers is indicated.  

Citation: Stavrou S, Nicolaides NC, et al. The effectiveness of a stress-management intervention program in the management of overweight and obesity in childhood and adolescence. Journal of Molecular Biochemistry. 2016;5(2):63-70. Epub 2016 Jul 31.

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Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award