Gender, stressful life events and interactions with sleep: a systematic review of determinants of adiposity in young people.

TitleGender, stressful life events and interactions with sleep: a systematic review of determinants of adiposity in young people.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsConklin AI, Guo SXr, Tam ACt, Richardson CG
JournalBMJ Open
Date Published07/2018

OBJECTIVES: Overweight and obesity among young people are high and rising. Social stressors and sleep are independently associated with obesity, but are rarely studied together or examined for gender-specific effects. The literature regarding adolescent populations is especially lacking. This review assesses whether experiencing stressful life events results in greater adiposity in young women and young men compared with those who do not experience stressful life events, and whether the relationship is modified by sleep problems.

DESIGN: We systematically searched six bibliometric databases (Web of Science, Embase Ovid, PsycINFO, CINHAL, PubMed, ProQuest Dissertations) supplemented by hand searches. Longitudinal prospective studies or reviews were eligible for inclusion when they examined gender-specific changes in adiposity in young adults (age 13-18 years) as a function of stressful life event alone or in combination with sleep problems.

RESULTS: We found one study eligible for inclusion reporting mixed impact of stressful life events on body mass index (BMI) between genders. The study assessed specific life events and showed significantly lower BMI at follow-up among young men who experienced a residence change, but significantly higher BMI among young women who experienced setting up a family and who reported internal locus of control.

CONCLUSIONS: Despite ample research on social stressors or sleep problems and weight, we still know little about the role of stressful life events, or combined effects with sleep, on obesity risk in adolescents from a gender perspective. Existing evidence suggests specific life events affect weight differently between the genders. Robust, high-quality longitudinal studies to decipher this dual burden on obesity during adolescence should be prioritised, as firm conclusions remain elusive.

Alternate JournalBMJ Open
PubMed ID30021752
PubMed Central IDPMC6059347