All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Marissa Gowey

Advisory Committee Members

Gareth Dutton

Barbara Gower

Donna Murdaugh

Jarred Younger

Document Type

Thesis

Date of Award

2021

Degree Name by School

Master of Arts (MA) College of Arts and Sciences

Abstract

Obesity is associated with executive function (EF) deficits across the lifespan. Higher body mass index (BMI), greater severity of obesity, and poorer adherence and weight outcomes in obesity treatment have all been associated with EF deficits. Adult literature has begun to emphasize neuroinflammation in obesity as a possible pathway to later cognitive impairment. However, the pediatric obesity literature has yet to even establish associations between peripheral inflammation and EF. Thus, the present study aimed to examine associations and variability in inflammatory biomarkers, EF, and adiposity in children with or at risk for obesity. Additionally, inflammation was examined as a mechanism of the relationship between adiposity and EF. Results demonstrated mixed effects, with several significant associations found that suggest increased adiposity is associated with increased inflammation, which in turn is associated with poorer EF. Further, several analyses suggested that inflammation explains the relation between adiposity and EF, although results were mixed. With replication, these findings will inform future efforts to identify and target children at risk for obesity-related chronic illnesses by elucidating novel treatment targets. Further, results provide foundational evidence for future efforts to establish comprehensive psychoneuroimmunologic models of pediatricobesity.

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