Greater hostility linked to greater BMI in men

By Tom Nordlie • Published: June 5th, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

If you go through life with a hostile attitude, you might become less and less popular as time passes.

New research suggests you might also become fatter and fatter.

At least if you’re a man.

That’s the conclusion of an article in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Researchers analyzed data from a long-term study of British civil servants, involving almost forty-five-hundred men and two-thousand women.

The participants, aged thirty-five to fifty-five when the study began, were tracked for two decades.

Among the data collected were hostility and body mass index, a comparison of weight to height.

Researchers categorized participants into four groups, based on how much hostility they expressed.

In women, higher levels of hostility were associated with higher B-M-I levels when the study began. Over time, the difference in B-M-I stayed about the same between hostile women and their more laid-back peers.

For men, it was more complicated. Greater hostility was also linked to higher B-M-I. But the girth-gap between the most hostile and least-hostile men increased with time.

Researchers aren’t sure why extreme hostility has a greater effect on B-M-I in men.

One theory? Cynicism might discourage hostile men from following recommendations for healthy diet and exercise.

Another? Extremely hostile men may have more interpersonal conflicts, lower levels of social support, more stress and more depression to deal with.

Regardless, if you find you’re always angry, here’s one more reason to seek help.

Hostility doesn’t just weigh on your loved ones. It weighs on you. Literally.