Personality and metabolic syndrome

Angelina R. Sutin, Paul T. Costa, Manuela Uda, Luigi Ferrucci, David Schlessinger, Antonio Terracciano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


The prevalence of metabolic syndrome has paralleled the sharp increase in obesity. Given its tremendous physical, emotional, and financial burden, it is of critical importance to identify who is most at risk and the potential points of intervention. Psychological traits, in addition to physiological and social risk factors, may contribute to metabolic syndrome. The objective of the present research is to test whether personality traits are associated with metabolic syndrome in a large community sample. Participants (N∈=∈5,662) from Sardinia, Italy, completed a comprehensive personality questionnaire, the NEO-PI-R, and were assessed on all components of metabolic syndrome (waist circumference, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, blood pressure, and fasting glucose). Logistic regressions were used to predict metabolic syndrome from personality traits, controlling for age, sex, education, and current smoking status. Among adults over age 45 (n∈=∈2,419), Neuroticism and low Agreeableness were associated with metabolic syndrome, whereas high Conscientiousness was protective. Individuals who scored in the top 10% on Conscientiousness were approximately 40% less likely to have metabolic syndrome (OR∈=∈0.61, 95% CI∈=∈0.41-0.92), whereas those who scored in the lowest 10% on Agreeableness were 50% more likely to have it (OR∈=∈1.53, 95% CI∈=∈1.09-2.16). At the facet level, traits related to impulsivity and hostility were the most strongly associated with metabolic syndrome. The present research indicates that those with fewer psychological resources are more vulnerable to metabolic syndrome and suggests a psychological component to other established risk factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)513-519
Number of pages7
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Hostility
  • Impulsivity
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Personality
  • Physical health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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