Heavily stressed?: A longitudinal examination of the effect of bodyweight perception on chronic stress


Covington, Heather (2016). Heavily stressed?: A longitudinal examination of the effect of bodyweight perception on chronic stress. 2016 Add Health Users Conference. Bethesda, MD.


Over the past two decades, a multitude of studies have documented the adverse effects of psychosocial stress on bodyweight and adiposity (for example, see reviews by Gunderson et al. 2011, Sinha and Jastreboff 2013). However despite considerable evidence linking body size to internalized weight-based stigma, the potential role of bodyweight perception as a source of chronic stress has received scant attention. The aim of this research is to examine the effect of bodyweight perception on both perceived stress and cumulative physiological manifestations of stress. This paper employs all four available waves of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health to document longitudinal patterns of bodyweight perception, and examine how these patterns influence both perceived stress and physiological indicators of cumulative stress (allostatic load). Using latent class analysis, we will first identify trajectories of bodyweight perception (from early adolescence to early adulthood). Next, the trajectories generated by the latent class analysis will be used as an explanatory variable in regression models to determine the impact of bodyweight perception on stress in early adulthood. We expect respondents who experience long-term dissatisfaction with their weight and those who experience recent increases in dissatisfaction to experience the most stress. A fuller understanding of the connection between stress and bodyweight perception can inform policies and interventions intended to reduce the negative consequences of bodyweight perception and stigma-related stress, potentially helping to increase health and wellbeing for people of all body sizes.



Reference Type

Conference proceeding

Book Title

2016 Add Health Users Conference


Covington, Heather

Year Published


City of Publication

Bethesda, MD

Reference ID