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Angelenos stress about money, jobs, relationships and looks, new poll finds

November 9, 2010 |  4:14 pm

A study by the MTA found traffic on the Interstate 5 getting worse.

Los Angeles residents say that they are more stressed than people in other major cities and that their stress levels are rising as their health worsens, according to a new national survey.

The “Stress in America Survey” released Tuesday by Harris Interactive on behalf of the American Psychological Assn. included 1,134 adults nationwide, plus another 211 adults in the Los Angeles metro area. The report did not include a detailed ethnic or geographic breakdown of those polled.

Researchers also polled residents in metro Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, New York, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

About 29% of Los Angeles residents surveyed reported having a “great deal of stress,” compared to 24% of respondants nationally. That was also higher than the other urban areas, including New York City and Denver (both 24%), Atlanta (27%), Detroit (25%) and Seattle (20%).

Many L.A.-area residents polled in August said that during the previous month, stress made them irritable (45%), anxious or nervous (38%) or fatigued (36%), according to the study.

Nearly a third of those polled locally said pressure to look good impacted their stress level “moderately or a lot.”

Their leading causes of stress: money (76%), the economy (75%), work (69%), relationships (53%) and housing costs (53%).

Money was also the leading cause of stress nationally, followed by work, the economy, family responsibilities and relationships, the study found.

Among L.A. residents surveyed, 39% reported feeling stressed at work, up from 29% last year, and only 44% said they would recommend their workplace to others, compared to 53% nationally.

However, fewer L.A. residents this year were dissatisfied with their jobs -- 58% compared to 64% last year and 67% the year before.

L.A. residents were far less likely than other metropolitan residents to manage their stress by praying (21%), going to religious services (11%) or shopping (7%).

In evaluating how Angelenos manage stress, surveyors noted that only 3 in 10 L.A. residents said they were in “excellent or very good health,” compared to 40% nationwide. Of those surveyed, 29% had been told by a healthcare provider that they were overweight or obese, up from 25% last year, and 14% cited a disability or health condition as a barrier to a healthy lifestyle, twice the percentage of last year.

Recent Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reports have documented an increase in diabetes and obesity among county residents, but also showed they are living longer on average and fewer are dying from chronic illnesses, with a certain amount of variation based on ethnicity, gender and geography.

-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske

Photo: Another stressful commute in L.A. Credit: Los Angeles Times

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