The Association Between Childhood Stress and Body Composition, and the Role of Stress-Related Lifestyle Factors—Cross-sectional Findings from the Baseline ChiBS Survey
- 877 Downloads
Stress has been hypothesised to be involved in obesity development, also in children. More research is needed into the role of lifestyle factors in this association.
This study investigates the cross-sectional relationship between stress and body composition and, more importantly, the possible moderating or mediating role of lifestyle factors.
A total of 355 Belgian children (5–10 years old) participating in the baseline ‘Children’s Body composition and Stress’ survey were included in this study. The following variables were studied: psychosocial stress (i.e. stressful events, emotions and behavioural/emotional problems, salivary cortisol), stress-related lifestyle factors (high-caloric snack consumption frequency, screen exposure time and sleep duration) and body composition parameters [BMI z-score, waist to height ratio (WHtR)]. Using linear regression analyses (adjusted for sex, age and socio-economic status), the relation between stress and body composition and, more importantly, the possible moderating or mediating role of lifestyle factors was tested.
No association was observed between body composition and negative emotions, conduct and emotional problems and salivary cortisol. However, negative life events were positively and happiness was negatively associated with BMI z-score and WHtR. Peer problems and WHtR were positively associated in girls only. These associations were not significantly reduced after correction for lifestyle factors. Nevertheless, all lifestyle parameters moderated one or more stress–body composition associations, resulting in even more significant relations after subgroup analysis.
Childhood stress was positively related to both overall and central adiposity measures with lifestyle factors acting as moderators but not as mediators. Thus, lifestyle could be a vulnerability factor in stress-induced adiposity, creating a perspective for multi-factorial obesity prevention, targeting stress and lifestyle factors in parallel.
KeywordsStress Body composition Child High-caloric snack Sedentary lifestyle Sleep
Area under the curve with respect to the ground
Body mass index
Children’s Body Composition and Stress
Children’s Eating Habits Questionnaire-Food Frequency Questionnaire
Coddington Life Events Scale
Identification and prevention of Dietary-and lifestyle-induced health EFfects In Children and infants
International Standard Classification of Education
Waist to height ratio
The project was financed by the European Community within the Sixth RTD Framework Programme Contract No. 016181 (FOOD) and the research council of Ghent University (Bijzonder Onderzoeksfonds). This work was done as part of the IDEFICS Study (www.idefics.eu). Nathalie Michels is financially supported by the research council of Ghent University (Bijzonder Onderzoeksfonds). Barbara Vanaelst, Krishna Vyncke and Isabelle Sioen are financially supported by the Research Foundation-Flanders. The authors want to thank the participating children and their parents for their voluntary participation.
- 9.Vanaelst B, De Vriendt T, Ahrens W, Bammann K, Hadjigeorgiou C, Konstabel K, et al. Prevalence of psychosomatic and emotional symptoms in European school-aged children and its relationship with childhood adversities: results from the IDEFICS study. Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2012;21:253–65.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 18.Gatineau M, Dent M. Obesity and mental health. Oxford: National Obesity Observatory; 2011.Google Scholar
- 29.Herbert TB, Cohen S. Measurement issues in research on psychosocial stress. In: Kaplan BH, editor. Psychosocial stress: perspectives on structure, theory, life course, and methods. New York: Academic; 1996. p. 295–332.Google Scholar
- 34.Ravens-Sieberer, U. and Bullinger, M. Questionnaire for measuring health-related quality of life in children and adolescents-Manual-revised version. Available from: http://kindl.org/cms/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/ManEnglish.pdf. Accessed 1 Jan 2010.
- 39.UNESCO. International Standard Classification of Education ISCED 1997. Available from: http://www.unesco.org/education/information/nfsunesco/doc/isced_1997.htm. Accessed 1 Jan 2010.
- 43.Selvin S. Statistical analysis of epidemiologic data. New York: Oxford University Press; 1996.Google Scholar
- 47.De Vriendt T. Stress and obesity in European adolescents: findings from the HELENA study. Ghent: University Press; 2012.Google Scholar