Stress coping strategies and stress reactivity in adolescents with overweight/obesity

Tiwaloluwa A. Ajibewa, Tessa A. Adams, Amaanat K. Gill, Lauren E. Mazin, Julia E. Gerras, Rebecca E. Hasson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


This study explored the associations between the frequency and effectiveness of habitual stress coping strategies on physiological and psychological stress responses to an acute laboratory stressor in adolescents with overweight/obesity (51 adolescents; 47% female; ages 14–19 years). Coping strategies were assessed using the Schoolager's Coping Strategies Inventory. Acute physiological stress responses were measured as salivary cortisol and α-amylase output during the Trier Social Stress Test and during a control condition. Acute psychological stress was measured using a Likert-type scale, and systolic blood pressure (SBP) and heart rate were measured at baseline. Results revealed that higher coping effectiveness was associated with lower log-based α-amylase during the stress (β = −0.025, p = 0.018) and control (β = −0.030, p = 0.005) conditions, but not with cortisol across either condition (all ps > 0.05). SBP moderated the association between coping effectiveness and α-amylase during the stress condition, with higher coping effectiveness associated with lower α-amylase only among individuals with lower SBP (β = 0.002, p = 0.027). Coping frequency was not associated with cortisol responses, neither was habitual stress coping strategies associated with psychological stress (all ps > 0.05). These findings provide preliminary evidence that effective use of stress coping strategies may provide a dampening effect on sympathetic activity in an at-risk adolescent population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)243-254
Number of pages12
JournalStress and Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • alpha-amylase
  • coping
  • cortisol
  • overweight/obesity
  • stress reactivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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