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Nutrition. 2011 Jun;27(6):677-80. doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2010.07.016. Epub 2010 Oct 8.

Cortisol, energy intake, and food frequency in overweight/obese women.

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Division of Endocrinology, Department of Internal Medicine, S. Orsola-Malpighi Hospital, University Alma Mater Studiorum, Bologna, Italy.



This retrospective study investigated the relation between daily urinary free cortisol excretion rate, as a marker of cortisol production rate, to daily caloric intake, food choice, body mass index (BMI), and waist circumference.


One hundred twenty-seven overweight/obese women and 21 normal-weight subjects were enrolled in the study. Fasting blood samples for metabolic parameters were taken from each subject, followed by an oral glucose tolerance test. Cortisol excretion rate was assessed on 24-h urine collection (UFC/24 h). In obese patients, the daily caloric intake was calculated, and a weekly food-frequency questionnaire was assessed. Analysis of variance was used to assess the differences between groups. The relations between parameters were investigated by simple and multiple regressions.


Obese women had significantly higher UFC/24 h than the normal-weight women (P < 0.001). The obese subjects had an unbalanced diet, particularly rich in saturated lipids, and weekly food choice showed a preference for highly caloric foods. UFC/24 h values and waist circumference were significantly correlated (P < 0.001), regardless of BMI. In the obese group, after adjustment for BMI, the UFC/24 h values were also significantly and positively correlated to daily carbohydrate and lipid intake and to weekly starchy food consumption.


We demonstrated a significant association between higher UFC/24 h and energy intake, fats, and consumption of starchy foods, and that these relations were independent of BMI.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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