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Cortisol Stress Reactivity to the Trier Social Stress Test in Obese Adults

11 Dec 2018

Objective: Approximately 600 million adults worldwide suffer from obesity. In addition to individual’s eating behavior and lack of physical activity in the development of obesity and overweight, psychosocial stress as well as hormonal stress reactivity must also be considered as important contributing factors. In the current study we compared the cortisol stress response pathway in a psychosocial stress induction (Trier Social Stress Test; TSST) with obese individuals and normal-weight controls. Method: 32 obese individuals (17 females; mean age = 33.94 years, SD = 11.31 years) and 32 normal-weight controls (17 females; mean age = 29.09 years, SD = 10.46 years) underwent the TSST. The salivary cortisol responses and three appraisal questionnaires (Primary Appraisal Secondary Appraisal, Visual Analogue Scale, Trier Inventory for Chronic Stress) were measured. Results: After stress induction, there was a significant main group difference between the obese individuals and the normal-weight controls for cortisol, with lower baseline and post-stress cortisol levels in the obese individuals. Nevertheless, the obese individuals as well as the normal-weight controls showed no significant difference in the self-reported assessment of the stress condition but some significant differences in the cognitive appraisal of the TSST. Conclusion: In conclusion, the induction of psychosocial stress showed differences in the cortisol patterns between the obese individuals and the normal-weight controls. Furthermore, the present data suggest that obesity leads to lower cortisol activity, which may indicate alterations in the Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrencortical (HPA) axis.
Obes Facts 2018;11:491–500

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Obesity Facts: The European Journal of Obesity