Hostility is associated with visceral, but not subcutaneous, fat in middle-aged african American and white women

Tené T. Lewis, Susan A. Everson-Rose, Kelly Karavolos, Imke Janssen, Deidre Wesley, Lynda H. Powell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine the cross-sectional association between hostility and measures of abdominal fat (visceral, subcutaneous) in middle-aged African American and white women. Because fat-patterning characteristics are known to differ by race, we were particularly interested in examining whether these associations were similar for women of both racial/ethnic groups. Methods: Participants were 418 (45% African American, 55% white) middle-aged women from the Chicago site of the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation. Visceral and subcutaneous fat were measured by computed tomographic scans and hostility was assessed via questionnaire. Multivariate linear regression models were conducted to test associations among race/ethnicity, hostility, and measures of abdominal fat. Results: In models adjusted for race/ethnicity and total percent fat, higher levels of hostility were associated with a greater amount of visceral fat (B = 1.8, standard error = 0.69, p = .01). This association remained significant after further adjustments for education, and multiple coronary heart disease (CHD) risk factors. Hostility was not associated with subcutaneous fat (p = .8). Although there were significant racial/ethnic differences in hostility (p < .001) and the amount of total body (p < .001), subcutaneous (p < .001) and visceral fat (p < .001), the associations between hostility and measures of abdominal fat did not differ for African American compared with white women (race/ethnicity × hostility interaction, p = .67 for visceral, p = .85 for subcutaneous). Conclusions: Hostility may affect CHD risk in women via the accumulation of visceral fat. Despite significant black-white differences in fat patterning and overall CHD risk, the association between hostility and visceral fat seems to be similar for both African American and white women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)733-740
Number of pages8
JournalPsychosomatic medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Sep 2009


  • African American
  • Hostility
  • Psychosocial risk factors
  • Race
  • Visceral fat
  • Women's health


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