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Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2014 Aug;46:14-22. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2014.04.003. Epub 2014 Apr 13.

Chronic stress increases vulnerability to diet-related abdominal fat, oxidative stress, and metabolic risk.

Author information

1
Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco, CA, United States; The Institute for Integrative Health, Baltimore, MD, United States. Electronic address: kirstin.aschbacher@ucsf.edu.
2
California School of Professional Psychology, Alliant International University, San Francisco, CA, United States.
3
Center for Mitochondrial and Epigenomic Medicine, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, United States.
4
Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco, CA, United States.
5
Department of Molecular Biosciences and Nutrition, University of California, Davis, CA, United States.
6
Department of Pediatrics, University of California, San Francisco, CA, United States; Institute for Health Policy Studies, University of California, San Francisco, CA, United States.
7
Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Francisco, CA, United States. Electronic address: EEpel@lppi.ucsf.edu.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

In preclinical studies, the combination of chronic stress and a high sugar/fat diet is a more potent driver of visceral adiposity than diet alone, a process mediated by peripheral neuropeptide Y (NPY).

METHODS:

In a human model of chronic stress, we investigated whether the synergistic combination of highly palatable foods (HPF; high sugar/fat) and stress was associated with elevated metabolic risk. Using a case-control design, we compared 33 post-menopausal caregivers (the chronic stress group) to 28 age-matched low-stress control women on reported HPF consumption (modified Block Food Frequency Questionnaire), waistline circumference, truncal fat ultrasound, and insulin sensitivity using a 3-h oral glucose tolerance test. A fasting blood draw was assayed for plasma NPY and oxidative stress markers (8-hydroxyguanosine and F2-Isoprostanes).

RESULTS:

Among chronically stressed women only, greater HPF consumption was associated with greater abdominal adiposity, oxidative stress, and insulin resistance at baseline (all p's≤.01). Furthermore, plasma NPY was significantly elevated in chronically stressed women (p<.01), and the association of HPF with abdominal adiposity was stronger among women with high versus low NPY. There were no significant predictions of change over 1-year, likely due to high stability (little change) in the primary outcomes over this period.

DISCUSSION:

Chronic stress is associated with enhanced vulnerability to diet-related metabolic risk (abdominal adiposity, insulin resistance, and oxidative stress). Stress-induced peripheral NPY may play a mechanistic role.

KEYWORDS:

Abdominal adiposity; Metabolic syndrome; Obesity; Pre-diabetes; Psychological stress

PMID:
24882154
PMCID:
PMC4104274
DOI:
10.1016/j.psyneuen.2014.04.003
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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