Stress and abdominal fat: preliminary evidence of moderation by the cortisol awakening response in Hispanic peripubertal girls

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2011 May;19(5):946-52. doi: 10.1038/oby.2010.287. Epub 2010 Dec 2.


Stress and the cortisol awakening response (CAR) have been independently linked to increases in abdominal fat depots. This cross-sectional study examined the CAR as a moderator of the association between stress, visceral adipose tissue (VAT), and subcutaneous abdominal adipose tissue (SAT) in a sample (N = 23) of female peripubertal Hispanic girls aged from 8 to 11. The study included: (i) monitored salivary cortisol collection, (ii) VAT and SAT obtained by multislice magnetic resonance imaging, and (iii) a stressful life events checklist with four domain-specific subscales: peer, family, personal, and school. Regression analysis indicated an interaction of school-related life events and CAR on VAT and SAT, with greater numbers of school-related events being related to greater VAT and SAT for girls with high CAR, but no association with VAT or SAT for girls with low CAR. Similar to job stress in adults, school-related stress in children may contribute to central adiposity, especially for girls with high CAR.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity
  • Body Composition
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / metabolism*
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat / metabolism*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Puberty / metabolism*
  • Saliva / metabolism
  • Schools
  • Stress, Psychological / metabolism*
  • Subcutaneous Fat, Abdominal / metabolism*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Hydrocortisone