For children and adults alike, depression can affect your diet. Additionally, your weight and self-image can contribute to symptoms of depression. The connection between overeating and depression in children is often cyclical. Today, it can be difficult for parents to help their children maintain a healthy weight. And just like adults may turn to comfort foods for solace during difficult times, children can end up doing the same.

It is important for parents to understand how their child’s physical health can be a reflection of their mental health. Here are a few reasons why overeating and depression are commonly connected in children.

1. Boredom and Isolation

Sometimes, people simply overeat out of boredom. It’s easy to mistake feelings of boredom for hunger, and children don’t necessarily know the difference. While children should not be over-scheduled with activities and extracurriculars, they do need hobbies and a sense of structure. When children feel bored or isolated, they might reach for comfort food as a source of entertainment and a way to fill their time.

2. Seeking Comfort

People of all ages indulge in comfort food when they’re feeling stressed or sad. It’s perfectly normal to treat yourself to something sweet or salty when you need a pick-me-up, but when people are consuming these foods on a daily basis, it can lead to weight gain. When children are overwhelmed, frustrated, upset, or lonely, they might start snacking on comfort foods whenever possible. Food is an easy way to find quick satisfaction when things aren’t going well, but in the long term, children can fall into overeating habits that are tough to break.

3. Coping with Tough Transitions

Children can have trouble when it comes to life transitions. Moving to a new place and starting school where they don’t know anyone can be challenging. If their parents separate, they might feel unsettled and nervous about the future, and struggle with the instability at home.

Furthermore, as children get older, they might feel pressured to look or act a certain way to fit in with their peers, and the burden of these expectations can leave them turning to overeating to find momentary solace. This is especially true for children who might feel like they don’t have adequate support from their families.

4. Overeating Can Cause Depression

It’s not just that depression can lead to symptoms like overeating. In return, overeating can contribute to depression. A child who is overeating might not physically feel their best. They may have trouble sleeping, experience digestive troubles, or deal with headaches and fatigue on a regular basis.

Furthermore, they may find themselves being picked on or bullied due to their weight. Children who face unfair treatment due to their weight can end up dealing with low self-esteem, and these problems can persist well into adulthood.

5. Symptoms Make It Hard to Stay Active

Sometimes, pre-existing depression symptoms can cause overeating. Many people with depression, including children, don’t have the energy to be active in their daily lives. They might lose interest in activities they used to enjoy, but sedentary activities, like playing video games, using social media, or watching TV don’t take much energy or motivation.

Therefore, it’s easy to fall into a rut with too much screen time. However, it’s also easy to overeat while engaging in these activities. When children spend so much time on screens, they end up losing out on opportunities to be active, and their health could end up worsening.

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