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Chronic Stress, Risk Taking, and Visceral Fat

Obesity; ePub 2018 Mar 22; Mason, et al

The combination of high chronic stress and high impulsive risk‐taking may increase risk for visceral fat gain over time and therefore, may be an important intervention target in obesity prevention, a recent study found. A prospective cohort of 113 adult women (age, mean ± SD: 42.83 ± 4.70; body mass index, mean ± SD: 24.86 ± 4.32; 74%, n=84 white) completed assessments at baseline and 18‐month follow‐up. Chronically stressed mothers caring for a child with an autism spectrum disorder (“caregivers”; n=72 participants) were compared with lower stress mothers caring for a neurotypical child (“controls”; n=41). Researchers objectively assessed impulsive risk‐taking by using the Behavioral Analog Risk Task at baseline and assessed visceral fat at baseline and 18‐month follow‐up by using bioelectrical impedance. They found:

  • The interaction of baseline chronic caregiving stress and impulsive risk‐taking predicted an 18‐month change in visceral fat, such that greater impulsive risk‐taking was associated with greater 18‐month increases in visceral fat among caregivers (ß=0.423) but not among controls (ß=−0.030), both in unadjusted models and after accounting for covariates.
  • Neither chronic stress nor impulsive risk‐taking independently predicted 18‐month changes in visceral fat.

Citation:

Mason AE, Schleicher S, Coccia M, Epel ES, Aschbacher K. Chronic stress and impulsive risk‐taking predict increases in visceral fat over 18 months. [Published online ahead of print March 22, 2018]. Obesity. doi:10.1002/oby.22150.

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