This investigation extended prior work by determining if stress and body mass index (BMI) contributed independently to tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) levels among prepubescent Latino children and if sex and family history of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) modified these relationships. Data were collected in South Florida from 112 nondiabetic school-aged Hispanic children, of whom 43.8% were obese (BMI ≥ 95th percentile) and 51.8% presented with a family history of T2DM. Stressful life events were assessed via parental report using a life events scale. Plasma TNF-α levels were determined with enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The relative contributions of stress and BMI with TNF-α levels and the potential interaction effects of sex and family history of T2DM were analyzed with multiple linear regression analyses. Stress and BMI each accounted for a significant proportion of the unique variance associated with TNF-α. The association between stress and TNF-α was not modified by sex or family history of T2DM. These findings implicate BMI and stress as independent determinants of TNF-α (an inflammatory cytokine and adipocytokine) among Latino children. Future investigations should examine the potential roles of exercise, nutritional status, age, and growth hormone in explicating the relationship between TNF-α production and psychosocial distress and risk for infection among obese children.
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