European adolescents' level of perceived stress and its relationship with body adiposity - The HELENA Study

Tineke De Vriendt, Els Clays, Lea Maes, Ilse De Bourdeaudhuij, Germàn Vicente-Rodriguez, Luis A. Moreno, Eniko Nagy, Dénes Molnár, Francisco B. Ortega, Sabine Dietrich, Yannis Manios, Stefaan De Henauw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Since stress is hypothesized to be involved in the aetiology of obesit the present study examined the current perception of stress in European adolescents and the association between adolescent perceived stress and their adiposity. Methods: Observational data from 1121 adolescents aged 12.5-17.5 years from six European cities involved in the Healthy Lifestyle in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescence cross-sectional stud was investigated. The adolescents completed the adolescent stress questionnair comprising 10 different stress dimensions. Anthropometric measurements (weigh heigh skinfold thicknesses and circumferences) and bioelectrical impedance analysis were performe and personal characteristics (ag pubertal stage and parental education) were collected. The measures of perceived stress were described for boys and girls separately and gender differences were investigated. Associations between the adolescents' perceived stress and indicators of general (body mass index z-scor sum of skinfold thicknesses and body fat) and abdominal (waist and hip circumferenc and waist/height ratio) adiposity were examined using hierarchical linear models. Results: While girls reported systematically higher levels of stress compared with boy their stress profiles were simila with highest levels for school-related stress followed by future uncertainty. Only in girl perceived stress was significantly associated with increased measures of general and abdominal adiposity. In boy no relationship between perceived stress and adiposity measures was observed. Conclusions: School is reported to be an important source of adolescent stress and should be the focus of stress management campaigns. Only in girl the hypothesis that stress might be involved in the aetiology of obesity during adolescence was supported.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)519-524
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean journal of public health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2012


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Cite this

De Vriendt, T., Clays, E., Maes, L., De Bourdeaudhuij, I., Vicente-Rodriguez, G., Moreno, L. A., Nagy, E., Molnár, D., Ortega, F. B., Dietrich, S., Manios, Y., & De Henauw, S. (2012). European adolescents' level of perceived stress and its relationship with body adiposity - The HELENA Study. European journal of public health, 22(4), 519-524.