Young people experience stress, just as adults do—and providing massage to children and teens is a growing specialty in the massage field.

New research shows that stressed adolescents are predisposed to greater incidence of obesity, which in turn increases their chance of developing weight-related disability and disease later in life.

“We found that an adolescent or youth who’s more stressed—caused by such things as having poor grades, mental health problems, more aggressive behavior, or doing more drugs and alcohol—is also more likely to be overweight or obese,” said lead author Brenda Lohman, an Iowa State assistant professor of human development and family studies.

Researchers determined the body mass index of 1,011 adolescents (aged 10-15) from low income families living in Boston, Chicago and San Antonio, which was subsequently used to determine weight status. Adolescent food insecurity status and individual, maternal and family stressors were also determined through interviews.

The five factors used to determine the individual stressor index for the adolescents were:

• Academic problems
• Acting out or aggressive behaviors
• Consumption of drugs and alcohol
• Depression or poor mental health levels
• Lack of future orientation

The study was posted online by the Journal of Adolescent Health ( and will be published in its August issue.

Editor’s note: For more information on providing massage to young people, see “Massage for Healthy Children,” by Marybetts Sinclair, in MASSAGE Magazine’s October 2008 issue. Article summary: “Many problems that cause suffering in adults can be resolved far more easily when the problem first arises in early life. In this sense, massaging children is truly preventive medicine.”