NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Anger Linked to Risky Health

April 13, 2004

Difficulty controlling anger can lead to weight gain and health problems such as heart disease and diabetes, say researchers. A study of 160 children between the ages of 14 and 17 for three years used psychological tests to measure how well children dealt with anger. The researchers found:

  • Teenagers who could control their anger and responded appropriately when angry were more likely to have lower body mass indexes -- a measure encompassing the ratio of a person's weight to height and waist-line.
  • Teenagers who had problems with anger, whether it was suppressing their feelings or losing their temper, were more likely to be overweight.

The findings suggest that problems expressing anger can translate into eating disorders and increased weight, which leads to a high risk of cardiovascular disease at a young age. Therefore, it is important for doctors to look at the emotional as well as the physical health of the child. Angry teens use overeating to anaesthetize their feelings.

Source: Lisa Reyes et al., "Anger in Adolescents: Sex, Ethnicity, Age Difference and Psychometric Properties," Nursing Research, January/February, 2003.

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