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Nutrition. 2002 May;18(5):403-7.

Homocysteine and psychological traits: a study in obesity.

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Department of Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology, Unit of Metabolic Diseases, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.



Total serum homocysteine is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease in the general population. Further, homocysteine might be the link between psychological traits (namely anger and hostility) and cardiovascular disease, mediated by stressful events and sympathetic nervous tone.


We measured total plasma homocysteine levels and psychological traits in 205 obese individuals entering a weight-reduction program (162 females; age range, 17-64 years; body mass index, 37.7 +/- 6.2 kg/m(2), mean +/- standard deviation). Psychometric assessment was performed with three self-administered questionnaires (Symptom Checklist 90, composed of nine subscales including Hostility/Anger and Depression scales; Beck Depression Inventory; and Binge Eating Scale).


Homocysteine levels were moderately increased in obese individuals when compared with the normal population and higher in males (median, 12.9 micromol/L; range, 6.9-26.3) than in females (9.8; 4.6-24.6; P < 0.0002), but not different in relation to the severity of obesity. Serum folate and vitamin B12 were normal. Psychometric testing showed pathologic data in up to 50% of patients and the Anger/Hostility scale was positive in 24%, mainly female, subjects. There were no differences in psychological traits in relation to the severity of obesity. Homocysteine did not correlate with Symptom Checklist 90 values or other values of psychometric testing.


In obese persons, psychological traits are not major determinants of total homocysteine. A different response to stressful events, not simply mediated by sympathetic nervous tone, might be present in obesity.

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