Community violence exposure and cortisol awakening responses in adolescents who are overweight/obese

Jacob Wexler, Tiwaloluwa A. Ajibewa, Joyce Lee, Claudia Toledo-Corral, Rebecca E. Hasson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Community violence exposure has been identified as a salient environmental stressor associated with dysregulated cortisol awakening response (CAR), which may act to exacerbate hypothalamic−pituitary−adrenal (HPA) axis dysregulation observed in adolescents who are overweight/obese. Purpose: To perform an exploratory cross-sectional analysis examining the association between community violence exposure and CAR in adolescents who are overweight/obese. Methods: One-hundred adolescents (ages: 13–19 years; 65% female; average BMI percentile: 93.80 ± 4.13) were included in this analysis. Community violence exposure was measured using the Survey of Children's Exposure to Community Violence. Salivary cortisol collected across three days at awakening and 30 min post-awakening was used to calculate CAR area under the curve (AUC). Results: Community violence exposure was associated with a lower CAR AUC when controlling for baseline cortisol, sex, BMI, pubertal development, race and perceived stress (β = −0.04 ± 0.02; p = 0.04). Conclusion: Findings from this study identified cross-sectional association between community violence and HPA dysregulation in adolescents who were overweight/obese. If long-term exposure to community violence does indeed accelerate HPA dysregulation in adolescents at increased weight status, policymakers and interventionists should consider implementing programs that limit adolescent violence exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104842
StatePublished - Nov 2020


  • Adolescents
  • Community violence
  • Cortisol awakening response
  • Obesity
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Endocrinology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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