Lifestyle and dietary correlates of dispositional optimism in men: The Zutphen Elderly Study

J Psychosom Res. 2007 Nov;63(5):483-90. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2007.07.014.


Objective: Dispositional optimism has been associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular mortality, but the underlying mechanisms are still largely unknown. We therefore studied whether dispositional optimism was associated with healthy lifestyle and dietary habits.

Methods: In 773 (87.1%) of 887 Dutch elderly community-living men with complete data in 1985, the associations of dispositional optimism with lifestyle and dietary factors were assessed at baseline and during follow-up every 5 years up to 15 years using multilevel regression models.

Measurements: Dispositional optimism was assessed using a four-item questionnaire, and the participants' food consumption was assessed by a cross-check dietary history method that estimates the usual food consumption pattern of the participants. Lifestyle factors were assessed by questionnaires, while weight and height were measured to calculate body mass index.

Results: A high level of dispositional optimism was associated with more physical activity (P<.001), nonsmoking (P=.02), and higher intakes of alcohol (P=.046), fruit (P=.01), vegetables (P=.01), and whole-grain bread (P=.01), independently from age, education, living arrangement, self-rated health, cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, cancer, and body mass index, as well as total energy intake (for dietary factors).

Conclusion: Dispositional optimism in elderly men is associated with healthy lifestyle and dietary habits. A low level of optimism may indirectly affect proneness to cardiovascular death via unhealthy behavioral choices.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Affect*
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality*
  • Energy Intake
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Survival Rate