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Metabolism. 1998 Oct;47(10):1187-93.

Endocrine and metabolic aberrations in men with abdominal obesity in relation to anxio-depressive infirmity.

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Department of Heart and Lung Diseases, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Göteborg, Sweden.


Abdominal obesity, anxiety, and depression have been found to cluster in several studies. To further characterize these associations, the following study was performed. In a population of 51-year-old men (N = 284), measurements of obesity (body mass index [BMI]) and body fat distribution (waist to hip ratio [WHR] and sagittal trunk recumbent diameter [D]) were analyzed in relation to dexamethasone (0.5 mg) inhibition of cortisol secretion, measured as salivary cortisol. Symptoms of anxiety and depression were defined by a validated questionnaire. Furthermore, testosterone, insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I), insulin, glucose, and serum lipid levels were measured. Twenty-five men (8.8%) had symptoms of anxiety and depression. BMI, WHR, and D correlated negatively with testosterone, except for BMI in the anxio-depressive (ADP) group. IGF-I showed no significant relationship. Furthermore, fasting insulin and the insulin to glucose ratio correlated positively and high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol correlated negatively with BMI, WHR, and D in the total study population and in the subgroups. Total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol showed no significant relationships. Correlation coefficients tended to be higher in ADP men. Dexamethasone inhibition showed a negative significant relationship with BMI (rho = -.47, P = .025), WHR (borderline, rho = -.37, P = .086), and D (rho = -.43, P = .046) only in the ADP group. Comparing the ADP group versus the group without anxio-depression (ADO) and high or low BMI (P = .008), WHR (P = .026), and D (P = .012) showed blunted dexamethasone inhibition only in ADP men with high anthropometric measurements. These findings suggest there is a subgroup with elevated BMI, WHR, and D in whom a blunted dexamethasone response is found associated with traits of anxiety and depression, conditions characterized by such an abnormality. The reason for the association might be insufficient control of cortisol secretion, followed by visceral fat accumulation.

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