Psychosocial Stress and Overweight and Obesity: Findings from the Chicago Community Adult Health Study

Adolfo G. Cuevas, Ruijia Chen, Katherine A. Thurber, Natalie Slopen, David R. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Psychosocial stress has been implicated as a risk factor for overweight and obesity. However, research on psychosocial stressors and overweight and obesity has typically focused on single stressors in isolation, which may overestimate the impact of a specific stressor and fail to describe the role of cumulative stress on overweight and obesity risk. Purpose: This study explores the association between overweight/obesity and cumulative exposure to a wide range of psychosocial stressors, among a multiracial/ethnic sample of adults. Methods: Using secondary data from the Chicago Community Adult Health Study (n = 2,983), we conducted multinomial logistic regression analyses to quantify associations between eight psychosocial stressors, individually and in combination, and measured overweight and obesity, adjusted for sociodemographic factors, alcohol use and smoking. Results: In separated covariate-adjusted models, childhood adversities (odds ratio [OR] = 1.16; confidence interval [CI] = [1.03, 1.30]), acute life events (OR = 1.18; CI = [1.04, 1.34]), financial strain (OR = 1.30; CI = [1.15, 1.47]), and relationship stressors (OR = 1.18; CI = [1.04, 1.35]) were associated with increased odds of obesity. In a model adjusted for all stressors simultaneously, financial strain was the only stressor independently associated with overweight (OR = 1.17; CI = [1.00, 1.36]) and obesity (OR = 1.21; CI = [1.05, 1.39]). Participants with stress exposure in the highest quintile across 2, 3, or ≥4 (compared to no) types of stressors had significantly higher odds of obesity. Conclusions: Multiple types of stressors may be risk factors for obesity, and cumulative exposure to these stressors may increase the odds of obesity. Reducing exposure to stressors at the population level may have the potential to contribute to reducing the burden of obesity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)964-974
Number of pages11
JournalAnnals of Behavioral Medicine
Volume53
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 27 2019

Keywords

  • Obesity
  • Overweight
  • Psychosocial stressors
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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