Abundant evidence suggests that depression is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome. Systemic low-grade inflammation and evolving abdominal obesity are hypothesised to be underlying mechanisms explaining the relationship. To test this hypothesis we examined the association of depressive symptoms and inflammation in developing abdominal obesity.
The subjects were 726 non-diabetic men, 42-60 of age at baseline, participating in the Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study. The follow-up data was collected 11 years after the baseline. Low-grade inflammation was defined as serum C-reactive protein =2 mg/l and depressive symptoms were assessed by the Human Population Laboratory Depression Scale. Incident abdominal obesity was defined as waist girth >102 cm.
Men with low-grade inflammation and depressive symptoms were more likely (OR 4.28, 95% CI 1.93-12.01) to develop abdominal obesity during the 11-year follow-up than in men not having either of these conditions, adjusting for age, smoking, alcohol consumption, prevalent cardiovascular disease, physical activity and socioeconomic status. These men were also more likely (OR 3.94, 95% CI 1.38-11.26) to develop metabolic syndrome.
The presence of systemic low-grade inflammation together with depressive symptoms seems to detect men at a particularly high risk of developing abdominal obesity over a long period of time.