Psychosocial stress is positively associated with body mass index gain over 5 years: Evidence from the longitudinal AusDiab study

Authors

  • Jessica L Harding,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Clinical Diabetes and Epidemiology, Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, Melbourne, Australia
    2. Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
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  • Kathryn Backholer,

    1. Department of Clinical Diabetes and Epidemiology, Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, Melbourne, Australia
    2. Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
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  • Emily D Williams,

    1. Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
    2. National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, London, UK
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  • Anna Peeters,

    1. Department of Clinical Diabetes and Epidemiology, Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, Melbourne, Australia
    2. Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
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  • Adrian J Cameron,

    1. Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia
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  • Matthew JL Hare,

    1. Department of Clinical Diabetes and Epidemiology, Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, Melbourne, Australia
    2. Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
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  • Jonathan E Shaw,

    1. Department of Clinical Diabetes and Epidemiology, Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, Melbourne, Australia
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  • Dianna J Magliano

    1. Department of Clinical Diabetes and Epidemiology, Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, Melbourne, Australia
    2. Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
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  • Funding sources: JLH is supported by an Australian Postgraduate Award and a Bright Sparks Scholarship, Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute. KB is funded from an Australian National Preventive Health Agency grant (188PEE2011) and an Australian Research Council grant (LP120100418). EDW is supported by a Diabetes UK Fellowship (09/0003833). AP is supported by a VicHealth Fellowship. JES (586623) and AJC (1013313) are supported by fellowships from the National Health and Medical Research Council. DJM is supported by the Victorian Cancer Agency Public Health Fellowship. The AusDiab study, co-coordinated by the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, gratefully acknowledges the generous support given by: National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC grant 233200), Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. Abbott Australasia Pty Ltd, Alphapharm Pty Ltd, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, City Health Centre-Diabetes Service-Canberra, Department of Health and Community Services-Northern Territory, Department of Health and Human Services-Tasmania, Department of Health – New South Wales, Department of Health-Western Australia, Department of Health-South Australia, Department of Human Services – Victoria, Diabetes Australia, Diabetes Australia Northern Territory, Eli Lilly Australia, Estate of the Late Edward Wilson, GlaxoSmithKline, Jack Brockhoff Foundation, Janssen-Cilag, Kidney Health Australia, Marian & FH Flack Trust, Menzies Research Institute, Merck Sharp & Dohme, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Novo Nordisk Pharmaceuticals, Pfizer Pty Ltd, Pratt Foundation, Queensland Health, Roche Diagnostics Australia, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, Sanofi Aventis, Sanofi Synthelabo. This study is funded in part by the Victorian Government's Operational Infrastructure Support (OIS) Program.

  • Disclosure: The authors have no competing interests.

  • Author contributions: JLH wrote the manuscript and conducted the analyses. KB and EDW contributed to discussion, analyses, and reviewed/edited manuscript. AP and AC contributed to discussion and reviewed/edited manuscript. MJLH contributed to analyses and reviewed/edited the manuscript. JES reviewed/edited manuscript. DJM contributed to conceptualization, discussion, and reviewed/edited manuscript.

Abstract

Objective

Emerging evidence suggests that psychosocial stress may influence weight gain. The relationship between stress and weight change and whether this was influenced by demographic and behavioral factors was explored.

Design and Methods

A total of 5,118 participants of AusDiab were prospectively followed from 2000 to 2005. The relationship between stress at baseline and BMI change was assessed using linear regression.

Results

Among those who maintained/gained weight, individuals with high levels of perceived stress at baseline experienced a 0.20 kg/m2 (95% CI: 0.07-0.33) greater mean change in BMI compared with those with low stress. Additionally, individuals who experienced 2 or ≥3 stressful life events had a 0.13 kg/m2 (0.00-0.26) and 0.26 kg/m2 (0.14-0.38) greater increase in BMI compared with people with none. These relationships differed by age, smoking, and baseline BMI. Further, those with multiple sources of stressors were at the greatest risk of weight gain.

Conclusion

Psychosocial stress, including both perceived stress and life events stress, was positively associated with weight gain but not weight loss. These associations varied by age, smoking, obesity, and multiple sources of stressors. Future treatment and interventions for overweight and obese people should consider the psychosocial factors that may influence weight gain.

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