Saturday, February 07, 2009

"Hostility" makes you fat

American Journal of Epidemiology Volume 169, Number 3 Pp. 347-354
Hostility and Trajectories of Body Mass Index Over 19 Years: The Whitehall II Study
Hermann Nabi, Mika Kivimaki, Séverine Sabia, Aline Dugravot, Mohamed Lajnef, Michael G. Marmot and Archana Singh-Manoux
Correspondence to Dr. Hermann Nabi, INSERM U687, Hôpital Paul Brousse, Bâtiment 15/16, 16 Avenue Paul Vaillant Couturier, 94807 Villejuif Cedex, France (e-mail:

The authors examined the associations of hostility measured in adulthood with subsequent body mass index (BMI; weight (kg)/height (m)2) assessed at 4 time points over a 19-year period (1985–2004) in a United Kingdom cohort study. A total of 6,484 participants (4,494 men and 1,990 women) aged 35–55 years at baseline (1985–1988) completed the Cook-Medley Hostility Scale. BMI was assessed upon medical examination in phases 1 (1985–1988), 3 (1991–1993), 5 (1997–1999), and 7 (2002–2004). Mixed-models analyses of repeated measures showed clear evidence of increasing BMI over follow-up in both sexes. In women, higher levels of hostility were associated with higher BMI at baseline, and this effect remained constant throughout the follow-up period. In men, hostility levels were also strongly associated with BMI at baseline, but results for the interaction between time and hostility also suggested that this association increased over time, with persons in the highest quartile of hostility gaining an excess of 0.016 units (P = 0.023) annually over the follow-up period as compared with persons in the lowest quartile. The authors conclude that the difference in BMI as a function of hostility levels in men is not stable over time.
BrooklynDodger(s) comment: Here's another nugget mined form the Whitehall vein.

[New Yorkers associate Whitehall with reporting to the draft board during the Vietnam War. This Whitehall is in England.]

The Hostility Scale [lots of caps here so far] asks questions which are supposed to measure "Cynicism, Hostile Attributions, Hostile Affect, Aggressive Responding, Social Avoidance." In other words, bad attitude. Assume for the sake of argument this 1950's scale does measure those things. A bad score would indicate an unhappy, suffering person whose future behavior might cause more unhappiness and social isolation - in other words pain. So people in pain gain weight. Probably from inappropriate eating behavior [which is to say, eating]. So this study provides additional evidence that pain causes health risk behavior.

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