Objective: It is unclear whether physiologic and metabolic biomarkers are associated with chronic stressors evidenced during early childhood.
Methods: Cross-sectional data were obtained from a cohort of healthy, prepubertal (Tanner stage < 2) children (n = 96; age: 8.06 [7.8] years; M = 51 [53%]; F = 45 [47%]; African-American = 26 [27%]; Caucasian = 70 [73%]; with obesity = 21 [22%]; without obesity = 75 [78%]) from the MET study. Body mass index z-score (z_BMI), total body fat (BF), visceral adipose tissue (VAT), intrahepatic and intramyocellular lipids, and insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) were measured. Chronic stress was assessed using neighborhood concentrated disadvantage index (CDI) for the U.S. Census tracts in which participants resided. Spearman's rank correlations were used to examine relationships, accounting for sex and race.
Results: CDI was not positively associated with inflammatory and metabolic markers of dysfunction. However, z_BMI (-0.234, P = 0.023), BF (-0.228, P = 0.028, n = 95), and VAT (-0.241, P = 0.042, n = 74) were significantly negatively associated with CDI. When stratifying by race, these relationships remained significant in Caucasian children only.
Conclusions: These findings suggest chronic stress during early childhood is not associated with inflammatory and metabolic biomarkers, typically observed in adults. Therefore, exposure to stress during this critical developmental period may remain latent and emerge during a later developmental stage.
© 2016 The Obesity Society.