Cortisol response to an induction of negative affect among adolescents with and without loss of control eating

R. M. Radin, L. B. Shomaker*, N. R. Kelly, C. K. Pickworth, K. A. Thompson, S. M. Brady, A. Demidowich, O. Galescu, A. M. Altschul, L. M. Shank, S. Z. Yanovski, M. Tanofsky-Kraff, J. A. Yanovski

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Adults with binge eating disorder may have an exaggerated or blunted cortisol response to stress. Yet, limited data exist among youth who report loss of control (LOC) eating, a developmental precursor to binge eating disorder. Methods: We studied cortisol reactivity among 178 healthy adolescents with and without LOC eating. Following a buffet lunch meal adolescents were randomly assigned to watch a neutral or sad film clip. After, they were offered snacks from a multi-item array to assess eating in the absence of hunger. Salivary cortisol was collected at −80, 0, 30 and 50 min relative to film administration, and state mood ratings were reported before and after the film. Results: Adolescents with LOC had greater increases in negative affect during the experimental paradigm in both conditions (ps > 0.05). Depressive symptoms, but not LOC, related to a greater cortisol response in the sad film condition (ps > 0.05). Depressive symptoms and state LOC were related to different aspects of eating behaviour, independent of film condition or cortisol response (ps > 0.05). Conclusions: A film clip that induced depressed state affect increased salivary cortisol only in adolescents with more elevated depressive symptoms. Adolescents with and without LOC were differentiated by greater increases in state depressed affect during laboratory test meals but had no difference in cortisol reactivity. Future studies are required to determine if adolescents with LOC manifest alterations in stress reactivity to alternative stress-inducing situations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)513-520
Number of pages8
JournalPediatric Obesity
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • adolescence
  • binge eating
  • cortisol
  • depressive symptoms
  • loss of control eating


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