Since it was assumed that high quality of life indicates lower stress level and the ability to cope with stress, the IDEFICS guideline panel took a well-being stress score as an indicator of stress coping. The percentage of children with a high score value (=high well-being) was highest in countries with low obesity prevalence (Estonia, Belgium and Sweden) and much lower in countries with high obesity prevalence (Italy, Cyprus and Spain). In agreement with this ecological correlation, the relative risk of overweight and obesity was significantly lower in children with a high score value.

Although our findings suggest a beneficial effect of children’s well-being on their weight status, a recommendation, e.g. to improve the stress coping capacity in children, will require further in-depth analyses and an independent confirmation of this new finding.

Following articles show further results on well-being and stress:

  • Bammann K, Gwozdz W, Pischke C, Eiben G, Fernandez-Alvira JM, De Henauw S, et al. The impact of familial, behavioural and psychosocial factors on the SES gradient for childhood overweight in Europe. A longitudinal study. Int J Obes (Lond). 2017;41(1):54-60.
  • Hunsberger M, Lehtinen-Jacks S, Mehlig K, Gwozdz W, Russo P, Michels N, et al. Bidirectional associations between psychosocial well-being and body mass index in European children: longitudinal findings from the IDEFICS study. BMC Public Health. 2016;16:949.
  • Vanaelst B, Michels N, Clays E, Herrmann D, Huybrechts I, Sioen I, et al. The association between childhood stress and body composition, and the role of stress-related lifestyle factors--cross-sectional findings from the baseline ChiBSD survey. Int J Behav Med. 2014;21(2):292-301.
  • Michels N, Sioen I, Braet C, Huybrechts I, Vanaelst B, Wolters M, et al. Relation between salivary cortisol as stress biomarker and dietary pattern in children. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2013;38(9):1512-20.
  • Michels N, Sioen I, Clays E, De Buyzere M, Ahrens W, Huybrechts I, et al. Children's heart rate variability as stress indicator: Association with reported stress and cortisol. Biol Psychol. 2013;94(2):433-40.
  • Vanaelst B, Michels N, Huybrechts I, Clays E, Florez MR, Balcaen L, et al. Cross-sectional relationship between chronic stress and mineral concentrations in hair of elementary school girls. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2013;153(1-3):41-9.
  • Michels N, Sioen I, Braet C, Eiben G, Hebestreit A, Huybrechts I, et al. Stress, emotional eating behaviour and dietary patterns in children. Appetite. 2012;59(3):762-9.
  • Michels N, Sioen I, Huybrechts I, Bammann K, Vanaelst B, De Vriendt T, et al. Negative life events, emotions and psychological difficulties as determinants of salivary cortisol in Belgian primary school children. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2012;37(9):1506-15.
  • Michels N, Sioen I, De Vriendt T, Huybrechts I, Vanaelst B, De Henauw S. Children's morning and evening salivary cortisol: pattern, instruction compliance and sampling confounders. Horm Res Paediatr. 2012;77(1):27-35.
  • Michels N, Vanaelst B, Stoppie E, Huybrechts I, Bammann K, de Henauw S, et al. Parental and children's report of emotional problems: agreement, explanatory factors and event-emotion correlation. Child and Adolescent Mental Health. 2012;18(3):180-6.
  • Vanaelst B, De Vriendt T, Ahrens W, Bammann K, Hadjigeorgiou C, Konstabel K, et al. Prevalence of psychosomatic and emotional symptoms in European school-aged children and its relationship with childhood adversities: results from the IDEFICS study. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2012;21(5):253-65.
  • Vanaelst B, Huybrechts I, Bammann K, Michels N, De Vriendt T, Vyncke K, et al. Intercorrelations between serum, salivary, and hair cortisol and child-reported estimates of stress in elementary school girls. Psychophysiology. 2012;49(8):1072-81.
  • Vanaelst B, Huybrechts I, De Bourdeaudhuij I, Bammann K, Hadjigeorgiou C, Eiben G, et al. Prevalence of negative life events and chronic adversities in European pre- and primary-school children: results from the IDEFICS study. Arch Public Health. 2012;70(1):26.