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Higher Hair Cortisol Concentration at 6 Years Tied to Childhood Obesity, Study Finds

A study has found that higher hair cortisol concentration (HCC) at 6 years is correlated with higher body mass index (BMI), fat mass index, liver fat fraction, and increased risks of overweight and non-alcohol fatty liver disease (NAFLD) at 10 years. The correlations for liver fat fraction and NAFLD are the only independent of the fat mass index at 6 years.

Photo: Child on Weighing Scale | InStyleHealth

Researchers evaluated the correlations of HCC at 6 years with general and organ fat measures, risk of overweight, and NAFLD at 10 years, and established whether these were independent of adiposity measures at 6 years. 

There were 2,042 children who are 6 years old, where researches have measured the HCC in the children’s hair, being included in the Generation R Study – a population-based prospective group study.

 The researchers also obtained data on body mass index (BMI), at 10 years, fat mass index was measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scan, and visceral fat index, pericardial fat index, liver fat fraction measured by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and risk of overweight and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

The correlations of higher HCC at 6 years with higher BMI, fat mass index, and heightened risk of overweight at age 10 years were mostly driven by the correlations observed at 6 years.

Particularly, HCCs at 6 years associated with a higher liver fat fraction and higher risk of NAFLD at 10 years, independent of fat mass index at 6 years. HCCs, on the other hand, showed no association with pericardial or visceral fat indices.

According to the researchers, “Stress may lead to an adverse body fat distribution from childhood onwards.” For complete details of this study, click here.


Source: J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2021;106:e551-e561

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