HPA axis response to stress predicts short-term snack intake in obese women

Bradley M. Appelhans*, Sherry L. Pagoto, Erica N. Peters, Bonnie J. Spring

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Prior research has linked heightened cortisol reactivity to stress with increased food consumption. This pilot study tested corollaries of the hypothesis that cortisol stress reactivity promotes obesity. Thirty-four lean and obese women completed an acute stress task and a non-stressful control task in counterbalanced order. Contrary to expectations, higher post-stress cortisol was associated with decreased post-stress snack intake in obese women but was unrelated to snack intake in lean women. Stress also blunted an expected rise in hunger only among obese women. Findings suggest that some obese women may be more sensitive to short-term anorectic effects of HPA axis activation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-220
Number of pages4
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2010


  • Cortisol
  • Eating behavior
  • HPA axis
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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