CONTEXT: Stress may lead to an adverse body fat distribution from childhood onwards. OBJECTIVE: To examine the associations of hair cortisol concentration (HCC) at 6 years with general and organ fat measures, risk of overweight, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) at 10 years and to assess whether these were independent of adiposity measures at 6 years. DESIGN, SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: HCCs were measured in hair of 6-year-old children (n = 2042) participating in the Generation R Study, a population-based prospective cohort study. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Body mass index (BMI), fat mass index measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scan, and visceral fat index, pericardial fat index, liver fat fraction measured by magnetic resonance imaging and risk of overweight and NAFLD were obtained at 10 years. RESULTS: The associations of higher HCC at 6 years, with higher BMI, fat mass index, and increased risk of overweight at age 10 years are explained by the relationships observed at 6 years. HCCs at 6 years were associated with a higher liver fat fraction (difference 0.11 liver fat fraction standard deviation score; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.03, 0.18) and a higher risk of NAFLD at 10 years (odds ratio 1.95; 95% CI 1.06, 3.56), independent of fat mass index at 6 years. HCCs were not associated with pericardial or visceral fat indices. CONCLUSIONS: Higher HCCs at 6 years were associated with higher BMI, fat mass index, liver fat fraction, and higher risks of overweight and NAFLD at 10 years. Only the associations for liver fat fraction and NAFLD were independent of fat mass index at 6 years.

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Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Vehmeijer, F. O. L., Santos, S., Gaillard, R., de Rijke, Y., Voortman, T., van den Akker, E., … Jaddoe, V. (2021). Associations of Hair Cortisol Concentrations with General and Organ Fat Measures in Childhood. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 106(2), e551–e561. doi:10.1210/clinem/dgaa785