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Unhealthy lifestyle in early psychoses: The role of life stress and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Brian WalkerORCiD


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An unhealthy lifestyle is thought to contribute to the metabolic syndrome in subjects with psychoses. In the present study we aimed to study whether life stress or cortisol measures may influence dietary patterns in subjects with early stages of psychoses. We studied 81 subjects with early psychoses (65 subjects with a psychotic disorder [PD] and <5 years of illness; 16 subjects at risk for psychosis [high-risk, HR]) and a control group of 25 healthy subjects (HS). Dietary habits were examined by a dietician, who registered food intake (24. h recall). Physical activity was assessed by validated questionnaire. Life stress was assessed with Holmes-Rahe Social Readjustment Scale. Fasting morning salivary and plasma cortisol levels were determined. We found that PD and HR reported an unhealthier lifestyle with more smoking, reduced physical activity and poorer dietary habits. HR reported increased intake of calories and saturated fatty acids and reduced protein consumption, when compared to HS. Life stress was a predictor of these adverse behaviours, although we found opposite associations in HR and PD. Life stress was associated with increased intake of refined sugar in PD and decreased intake in HR and HS. Salivary cortisol was related to increased intake of saturated fat only in HR subjects, but cortisol levels in plasma or saliva were not associated with other dietary habits or obesity measures (BMI, waist circumference). Our study suggests that unhealthy diet in early psychoses is influenced by stress, but our data do not support this effect being mediated by hypercortisolism. Future preventive interventions in psychosis may target dietary habits, particularly for those who are at risk for psychosis. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Manzanares N, Monseny R, Ortega L, Montalvo I, Franch J, Gutierrez-Zotes A, Reynolds RM, Walker BR, Vilella E, Labad J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Psychoneuroendocrinology

Year: 2014

Volume: 39

Issue: 1

Pages: 1-10

Print publication date: 01/04/2014

Online publication date: 01/10/2013

Acceptance date: 24/09/2013

ISSN (print): 0306-4530

ISSN (electronic): 1873-3360

Publisher: Elsevier


DOI: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2013.09.023

PubMed id: 24274999


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