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Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1998 Sep;22(9):861-8.

Coping, personality and the development of a central pattern of body fat from youth into young adulthood: The Amsterdam Growth and Health Study.

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Institute for Research in Extramural Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



It has been suggested that coping behaviour, in particular a defeat reaction to stress, is a determinant of the central pattern of body fat. To verify this hypothesis, this study investigated if coping behaviour, and associated personality traits, are associated with a central pattern of body fat or total body fatness in a healthy population of males (n=83) and females (n=98) early in life.


Problem-focused, emotion-focused and type A behaviour were measured at the mean ages of 21 y and 27 y. Personality traits (inadequacy, social inadequacy, dominance, rigidity and debilitating anxiety), a central pattern of body fat (subscapular/triceps, (S/T) ratio) and total body fatness (sum of four skinfolds (SSF): biceps, triceps, subscapular, suprailiac) were measured six times between the ages of 13-27 y.


In both genders, no association was found between either coping strategy and a central pattern of body fat or total body fatness. In males, type A behaviour was significantly negatively correlated with the S/T ratio (r = -0.27, P=0.01) after adjustment for total body fatness, at the mean age of 27 y. In a longitudinal analysis, adjusted for total body fatness, dominance and rigidity were negatively associated with the S/T ratio (beta = -0.09, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) (-0.17; -0.00) and beta = -0.11, 95% CI (-.19; -0.02), respectively) between the ages of 13-21 y in males. These associations of type A behaviour, dominance and rigidity, with a central pattern of body fat, were weaker and did not reach statistical significance with total body fatness.


The results of this study justify further research on the association between coping behaviour, personality and the development of a central pattern of body fat.

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