Negative Aspects of Close Relationships as a Predictor of Increased Body Mass Index and Waist Circumference: The Whitehall II Study

Institute of Work, Health, and Organisations, School of Community Health Sciences, The University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK.
American Journal of Public Health (Impact Factor: 4.55). 06/2011; 101(8):1474-80. DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2010.300115
Source: PubMed


We investigated whether exposure to negative aspects of close relationships was associated with subsequent increase in body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference.
Data came from a prospective cohort study (Whitehall II) of 9425 civil servants aged 35 to 55 years at baseline (phase 1: 1985-1988). We assessed negative aspects of close relationships with the Close Persons Questionnaire (range 0-12) at phases 1 and 2 (1989-1990). We measured BMI and waist circumference at phases 3 (1991-1994) and 5 (1997-1999). Covariates at phase 1 included gender, age, marital status, ethnicity, BMI, employment grade, smoking, physical activity, fruit and vegetable consumption, and common mental disorder.
After adjustment for sociodemographic characteristics and health behaviors, participants with higher exposure to negative aspects of close relationships had a higher likelihood of a 10% or greater increase in BMI and waist circumference (odds ratios per 1-unit increase 1.08 [95% confidence interval (CI) =1.02, 1.14; P = .007] and 1.09 [CI = 1.04, 1.14; P ≤ .001], respectively) as well as a transition from the overweight (25 ≤ BMI  < 30) to the obese (BMI  ≥ 0) category.
Adverse social relationships may contribute to weight gain.

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    • "Torres and Nowson (2007) argue that chronic stress leads to consuming foods high in sugar and fat, and a meta-analysis of longitudinal studies shows that depression generally leads to weight gain (Blaine, 2008). Using the Whitehall II data, others (Kouvonen et al., 2011) have shown that the negative aspects of marriage result in weight gain. All of this suggests that spousal lost should raise BMI. "
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