The effects of psychological stress, depressive symptoms, and cortisol on body mass and central adiposity in 10- to 12-year-old children
A convenience sample of 147 (84 girls, 63 boys; 67.3% White, 11.6% African American, 17.7% Hispanic, 2.0% Asian, and 1.4% More than one race) 10-, 11-, and 12-year-old children were enrolled from a rural southeastern school district. More than half (51.7%) of the participants were overweight or obese. A majority of the participants had cortisol levels within the normal range of 1.69 to12.81 nmol/l, while 8.3% had cortisol levels above the range. Approximately, 15.6 % of boys had WC measures at or above the 90th percentile, while 19% of girls had WC measures at or above the 90th percentile.
After controlling for gender, puberty, ethnicity, and SES, the predictor variable depressive symptoms explained a significant amount of the variance in body mass and central adiposity. The predictor variable psychological stress explained a significant amount of the variance in both body mass and central adiposity when the independent variable depressive symptoms was not included in the model. A lack of statistically significant relationships between psychological stress and cortisol, and between depressive symptoms and cortisol precluded the need for additional testing of cortisol for mediation.