Teenagers who regularly feel stressed are more at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity in adulthood, latest evidence shows.

A new study has found that childhood stress can trigger the development of cardiovascular disease later in life.

Lead author Dr Fangqi Guo said: “Understanding the effects of perceived stress starting in childhood is important for preventing, lessening or managing higher cardiometabolic risk factors in young adults.

“Our findings suggest that perceived stress patterns over time have a far-reaching effect on various cardiometabolic measures including fat distribution, vascular health and obesity.”

Dr Guo added: “This could highlight the importance of stress management as early as in adolescence as a health protective behaviour.”

Nearly 25% of deaths in America are caused by cardiometabolic diseases, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

During the study, a team of researchers looked at health information from the Southern California Children’s Health Study.

They used a 4-item Perceived Stress Scale to assess the children’s stress levels.

The participants were then placed in to one of four groups – consistently high stress over time, decreasing stress over time, increasing stress over time and consistently low stress over time.

The results show that the participants in the consistently high stress over time group were more at risk of developing cardiometabolic diseases in young adulthood.

In addition, the participants in the consistently high stress over time group were more likely to be living with overweight compared to those in the other groups.

Dr Guo said: “Although we assumed that perceived stress patterns should have some association with cardiometabolic measures, we did not expect such consistent patterns across various risk factors.

“Healthcare professionals should consider using the Perceived Stress Scale to evaluate individuals’ stress levels during clinic visits.

“This way, those with higher stress levels can be identified and receive treatment earlier.”

Read the full study in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

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