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Author Notes:

Corresponding Author: Shakira F Suglia Emory University Rollins School of Public Health 1518 Clifton Rd, Atlanta, GA 30322 Phone 404-727-8184, Shakira.suglia@emory.edu.

Special acknowledgment is due Ronald R. Rindfuss and Barbara Entwisle for assistance in the original design.


Research Funding:

Dr. Suglia was supported by Grant Number K01HL103199 and R01HL12765.

Dr. Suglia and Dr. Shelton would like to thank the support of the Obesity Prevention Initiative at the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University.

Mr. Pamplin was supported by Grant Number 2-T32-MH013043.

This research uses data from Add Health, a program project directed by Kathleen Mullan Harris and designed by J. Richard Udry, Peter S. Bearman, and Kathleen Mullan Harris at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and funded by grant P01-HD31921 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, with cooperative funding from 23 other federal agencies and foundations.

No direct support was received from grant P01-HD31921 for this analysis.


  • Obesity
  • Sex differences
  • Stress
  • Adiposity
  • Adolescent
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Waist Circumference
  • Young Adult

Sex differences in the association between perceived stress and adiposity in a nationally representative sample


Journal Title:

Annals of Epidemiology


Volume 27, Number 10


, Pages 626-631

Type of Work:

Article | Post-print: After Peer Review


Purpose Prior studies examining the association between perceived stress and adiposity have reported mixed findings, and sex differences have largely not been examined. Methods We examined the relationship between perceived stress and body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference in young adults in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. Participants (mean age 29 years; N = 14,044) completed the short form of Cohen's Perceived Stress Scale during a home visit. Height, weight, and waist circumference were assessed during the same visit. BMI was calculated based on measured height and weight. Results In the sample, 52% were male and 65% were identified as white. In adjusted linear regression analyses, a sex by Perceived Stress Scale interaction was noted (P <.05) for both BMI and waist circumference. Perceived stress was statistically significantly associated with lower BMI (β: −0.09; standard error [SE]: 0.05) and was associated with lower waist circumference, although not statistically significant (β: −0.18; SE: 0.10) among men. No associations were noted among women. Conclusions In this nationally representative sample of young adults, perceived stress was associated with lower levels of adiposity among men. Noted differences could be attributed to different behavioral and coping strategies in response to stress between men and women as well as biological mechanisms which should be explored further.

Copyright information:

© 2017 Elsevier Inc.

This is an Open Access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

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