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Study: Economy, Diet Behind LA Stress Levels

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Whether it's the drive home on the 405 freeway or the rising cost of just about anything, Angelenos are among the most stressed-out people in America, according to a new report.

The American Psychological Association says stress levels among Southland residents are higher than the national average, fueled primarily by money concerns, work and the economy.

Along with the rising stress levels, the "Stress in America" report also found a jump in the number of residents reporting chronic health problems, such as arthritis and asthma.

Meanwhile, the number of Los Angeles residents who believe they are in excellent or very good health fell short of the national average.

"It's worrisome that people in the L.A. area are reporting higher stress levels than the rest of the country, especially since we know there is a strong connection between chronic stress and serious health problems," said local psychologist Michael Ritz, the public education coordinator for the California Psychological Association.

"But stress can be properly managed when people adopt the healthy lifestyle changes necessary to improving their health."

The percentage of Los Angeles residents who say the economy is a significant cause of stress increased from 57 percent in 2009 to 75 percent this year. The percentage of people who cited money problems as a source of stress jumped from 67 percent last year to 76 percent, according to the report.

And in addition to all the other problems, Los Angeles residents are also getting fatter. The percentage of residents who were told by a doctor that they are overweight or obese jumped from 25 percent last year to 29 percent.

On the positive side, fewer residents blamed a lack of willpower or lack of time for their failure to make healthy lifestyle changes.

The full report is available online at

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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