Oral Presentation Australian & New Zealand Obesity Society 2014 Annual Scientific Meeting

Cortisol response to food intake in men: Influence of overweight and obesity (#112)

Anne I Turner 1 , Susan J Torres 1 , Caryl A Nowson 1 , Alan J Tilbrook 2 , Sisitha U Jayasinghe 1
  1. Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research, Deakin University, Burwood, VIC, Australia
  2. Livestock and Farming Systems, South Australian Research and Development Institute, Roseworthy, SA, Australia

Previous research has shown that increased levels of adiposity can lead to increased cortisol response to stress (1, 2, 3).  Food intake has also been shown to activate the hypothalamo-pituitary adrenal axis (4, 5) but it is not clear if this activation is influenced by levels of adiposity.  We tested the hypothesis that overweight/obese men will have a greater cortisol response to food intake compared to lean men.

Lean (BMI=20-25 kg/m2; n=19) and overweight/obese (BMI=27-35 kg/m2; n=17) men aged 50-70 years were allowed to prepare their own lunch at 12:00 pm using bread, margarine, cheese, processed meat (ham or chicken), tomato, cucumber, nuts, fruit bars and a fruit juice box drink.  Records were made of foods consumed.  Energy and macronutrient intake were determined using Foodworks (version 6.0; Xyris Software, QLD).  Concentrations of cortisol were measured (by enzyme immunoassay) in samples of saliva collected every 15 min from 11:45 am to 2:00 pm with the exception of during lunch (12:15 pm) when no sample was collected.

Overweight/obese men had significantly higher body weight, BMI, percentage body fat and waist and hip circumferences compared to lean men (p < 0.001 for all). The meal consumed by the participants consisted of 22% protein, 53% carbohydrates and 25% fat and did not differ between the groups.  For cortisol, repeated measures analysis of variance revealed a significant time*treatment interaction (p=0.008). Overweight/obese men responded to food intake with a significant elevation (51%) in salivary cortisol (time effect: p=0.005) whereas lean men did not have a significant elevation (5%) of cortisol (time effect: p=0.382).

While overweight/obese men had a significant cortisol response to food intake, lean men did not.  If overweight/obese men have an elevated cortisol response every time they ingest food, they may be more susceptible to the development of stress-related disease.
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