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ARS Home » Plains Area » Grand Forks, North Dakota » Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center » Healthy Body Weight Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #275235

Title: Stress habituation and alterations in perceived stress predict BMI percentile changes across a school year

item SEELBINDER, APRIL - University Of Buffalo
item FEDA, DENISE - University Of Buffalo
item DORN, JOAN - University Of Buffalo
item Roemmich, James

Submitted to: American College of Sports Medicine
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/10/2012
Publication Date: 5/1/2012
Citation: Seelbinder, A., Feda, D.M., Dorn, J., Roemmich, J.N. 2012. Stress habituation and alterations in perceived stress predict BMI percentile changes across a school year [abstract]. American College of Sports Medicine. 44:851(Suppl. 2 5S).

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Adolescents experience stressful situations at a high rate during school. Indeed, school is the most common source of stress for teens. This high rate of stress may promote increases in adiposity during a developmental period important for establishing the adult physique. Adiposity gains may be the result of teens engaging in common stress coping behaviors; snacking on energy dense foods, television, and reduced physical activity; all of which may increase adiposity. Adolescents who experience repeated bouts of the same stressors during the school year and continue to react to them would be most at risk for gains in adiposity. However, teens who habituate faster, or reduce their responding to repeated presentations of the same stressor may seek out fewer obesogenic coping mechanisms, which may be protective against gains in adiposity. PURPOSE: To determine the relationship between alterations in perceived stress levels and BMI percentile across a school year, and to determine whether the rate of habituation to stress is associated with alterations in BMI percentile. METHODS: 41 adolescents ages 13-16 y completed the Perceived Stress Survey-14 prior to the beginning and at the end of the academic year. Adolescents’ height and weight was also measured at both time points. The stress habituation protocol was completed once and consisted of 6 mental serial subtraction trials and measured the rate of reduction in perceived stress across trials. 34 of the 41 adolescents completed the habituation protocol. RESULTS: When controlling for gender, race, family position on the social ladder and change in physical activity, increases in perceived stress across the school year predicted (ß =0.44, p <0.02) increases in BMI percentile. When using the same covariates, a rapid reduction in (quicker habituation) perceived stress to repeated presentations of the same stressor was associated (ß =28.1, p <0.05) with smaller changes in BMI percentile. CONCLUSIONS: Increases in adolescents’ perceived stress during a school year may promote increases in BMI percentile. A greater habituation to repeated presentations of the same stressor may be protective against increases in BMI percentile. Supported by a UB 2020 Interdisciplinary Research Development Fund.