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. 2001 Dec;6(4):205-13.
doi: 10.1007/BF03339744.

Relationship Between Socio-Economic and Cultural Status, Psychological Factors and Body Fat Distribution in Middle-Aged Women Living in Northern Italy

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Relationship Between Socio-Economic and Cultural Status, Psychological Factors and Body Fat Distribution in Middle-Aged Women Living in Northern Italy

D Cota et al. Eat Weight Disord. .

Abstract

This study analyses the relationships between body fat distribution and socioeconomic and psychological factors in a cohort of 426 healthy middle-aged women living in Virgilio, Mantua (Northern Italy). The information concerning their occupational, social and psychological conditions and smoking habits were obtained by means of questionnaires. Psychological factors were investigated using the Italian version of the Illness Behaviour Questionnaire and the Symptom Questionnaire. Anthropometric measurements, body mass index (BMI) (kg/m2), waist/hip ratio (WHR) and clinical/hormonal menopausal status were also collected for each subject. The women reported significantly higher or lower psychological factor scores (symptoms of conversion: p=0.005; perception of disease: p=-0.018; denial: p=0.021; hostility: p=0.57; and laxity: p=0.047) as their WHR increased, thus indicating some concern about their health. In a multiple regression model, their WHR and waist circumference (W) significantly correlated with symptoms of conversion (p=0.005 and p=0.029), and W was also significantly related to the perception of disease (p=0.043). There was a significant inverse correlation between the WHR and educational level (p<0.001). The prevalence of partners who were entrepreneurs or self-employed also decreased as WHR increased (p<0.001). Furthermore, the number of women living in the centre of town significantly diminished, whereas those living in the suburbs or in the country significantly increased (p=0.005). However, using age, BMI and menopausal status as covariates, only the partner's work significantly and negatively correlated with the WHR (p=0.029). These results are consistent with the hypothesis that psychological and socio-economic handicaps are associated with a higher prevalence of abdominal fatness in middle-aged women living in Northern Italy

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