Abstract P092: Debunking the Myth of the “Jolly Fat and Fit”: A Longitudinal Cohort Analysis
Background: Positive emotional health has been shown to be protective against coronary artery disease, putatively through pro-health behaviors including exercise and fitness. It has been suggested that this positive emotion trait is prevalent among obese persons (“jolly fat” hypothesis) implying that it may lead to fitness even with higher BMI. We thus examined the longitudinal associations among fatness, fitness and positive emotion using structural equation modeling (SEM).
Methods: We examined GeneSTAR (Genetic Study of Atherosclerosis Risk) cohort data (N = 947, 57% women, 50% African American, baseline age 47 ± 7 years, follow-up measures 7 ± 2 years). We fit SEMs to determine the temporal associations between fatness (BMI), fitness (METs achieved on a treadmill test) and positive emotion (General Well Being Schedule, GWBS) adjusting for age, sex, race and follow-up time.
Results: The cross-sectional correlations were significant in SEM (BMI-METs -0.42, GWBS-MET -0.14, BMI-GWBS -0.15; all p<0.001). Significant or suggestive temporal paths (standardized r) are shown in the figure. All within-variable correlations were strong (p < 0.001). Baseline BMI was negatively correlated with GWB scores at follow-up but baseline GWBS was not associated with BMI at follow-up (difference between paths, p = 0.007). Thus, adjusting for cross-sectional correlations, lower BMI occurs temporally prior to measures of a greater level of positive emotion. Although the temporal paths between baseline BMI and followup MET and vice versa were jointly significant (p = 0.004), neither was significantly stronger (p = 0.25), suggesting temporal bidirectionality. There was no significant temporal relationship between GWBS and MET.
Conclusion: Both cross sectional and longitudinal relationships are contrary to the “jolly fat” hypothesis. Greater BMI is temporally and cross-sectionally associated with worse measures of the positive emotion trait and fitness.
Author Disclosures: D. Vaidya: B. Research Grant; Significant; NIH. L.R. Yanek: None. T.F. Moy: None. B.G. Kral: B. Research Grant; Significant; NIH. D.M. Becker: B. Research Grant; Significant; NIH.
- © 2014 by American Heart Association, Inc.