Objective: The aim of this study was to examine whether baseline chronic stress and impulsive risk-taking synergistically predict changes in visceral fat among healthy mothers in an observational, longitudinal, 18-month study.
Methods: A prospective cohort of 113 adult women (age, mean ± SD: 42.83 ± 4.70; BMI, 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). This study 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 (ViScan; Tanita Corporation, Tokyo, Japan).
Results: 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; P = 0.005) but not among controls (ß = -0.030; P = 0.802), both in unadjusted models and after accounting for covariates. Neither chronic stress nor impulsive risk-taking independently predicted 18-month changes in visceral fat.
Conclusions: 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.
© 2018 The Obesity Society.