Stress-Related Risk Factors Linked to Adolescent Adiposity: A Cumulative Risk Approach

by Amy Jean Fahrenkamp

Institution: Kent State University
Department: College of Arts and Sciences / Department of Psychology
Degree: MA
Year: 2015
Keywords: Psychology; Health; adolescent zBMI; waist-to-height ratio; stress; cumulative risk index
Record ID: 2060802
Full text PDF: http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc_num=kent1423050674


Stress is suggested to be an important contributor associated with pediatric obesity risk. Cumulative risk index (CRI) models have been used to examine the accumulation of risk factors linked to poorer health outcomes. The goal of this study was to examine how stress-related risk factors cumulatively relate to adolescent adiposity. Using national data from the Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development (NICHD-SECCYD), this study obtained objective and subjective stress-related measures from 621 adolescents (age 15) and their mothers. A CRI was constructed to examine cumulative effects of risk factors (e.g. awakening cortisol levels, socioeconomic status – SES) related to adolescent body mass index z-scores for age-and-gender (zBMI) and waist-to-height ratio. Hierarchical linear regressions further examined which risk factors were most strongly associated with weight outcomes. Results showed that cumulative stress was associated with greater adolescent zBMI and waist-to-height ratio. Individual, maternal, and environmental risk factors were related to poorer weight outcomes in adolescents. Specifically, lower SES (income-to-needs ratios) and greater adolescent depressive symptoms predicted greater levels of adolescent zBMI and waist-to-height ratios. Findings from this study concluded that combined stress may influence greater adiposity in adolescents, and lower SES may be a particular stressor related to greater risk for obesity.