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Many of today's children are obese. We know that they're not getting enough exercise or eating proper diets. Now a study shows that kids with anger problems have another health threat: heart disease.
"We need to worry about obesity, exercise, diet," said lead researcher Kristen Salomon, social/health psychologist at the University of South Florida in Tampa. "But it's also important to focus on psychological factors, to find kids who are hostile and help them deal with it."
In the study, which appeared in the May issue of Health Psychology, researchers studied 134 children, between 8 to 10 and 15 to 17 years old.
To determine the risk of heart disease, researchers measured the children's body mass index, blood pressure, cholesterol and insulin levels.
Children then were tested for hostility through a questionnaire that measured their level of cynicism about the world, and determined how they responded to situations when provoked.
The same children were retested three years later.
Hostile children who didn't have early signs of heart disease at the first visit were 22 percent more likely to have them at the second visit than children who weren't hostile.
John Sargent, child and adolescent psychiatrist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, says hostility, anger and aggressiveness are complicated reactions with many roots.
Says Sargent: Helping angry children will improve the quality of their lives. They will have more friends and a better self-image. Such positive influences may help children take better care of themselves, offsetting the risk for heart disease.
Edited and compiled by Fort Worth Star-Telegram staff.
(c) 2003, Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service.