Pilot study on childhood sexual abuse, diurnal cortisol secretion, and weight loss in bariatric surgery patients

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Childhood sexual abuse increases risk for adult obesity. A potential contributing factor is altered cortisol secretion. In this pilot study, relationships among childhood sexual abuse, diurnal salivary cortisol secretion, and weight loss were explored in 17 bariatric surgery patients. Measurement points were before surgery (baseline) and 3 and 6 months after surgery. Childhood sexual abuse was measured by the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire. The results showed moderate but nonsignificant positive correlations between the childhood sexual abuse subscale score and baseline morning cortisol, evening cortisol, and daily mean cortisol. An unexpected positive correlation was noted between the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire total score and weight loss at six months. Diurnal cortisol secretion did not change over time after surgery nor correlate significantly with weight loss at six months.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)385-400
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Child Sexual Abuse
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - May 19 2015



  • HPA axis
  • bariatric surgery
  • childhood abuse
  • childhood sexual abuse
  • diurnal cortisol
  • obesity
  • survivors of childhood abuse
  • survivors of childhood sexual abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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