Relationship between adiposity, emotional status and eating behaviour in obese women: role of inflammation

Psychol Med. 2011 Jul;41(7):1517-28. doi: 10.1017/S0033291710001984. Epub 2010 Oct 20.


Background: Obesity is characterized by chronic low-grade inflammation that may lead to emotional distress and behavioural symptoms. This study assessed the relationship between adiposity, low-grade inflammation, eating behaviour and emotional status in obese women awaiting gastric surgery and investigated the effects of surgery-induced weight loss on this relationship.

Method: A total of 101 women with severe or morbid obesity awaiting gastric surgery were recruited. Assessments were performed before and at 1 year post-surgery and included the measurement of neuroticism and extraversion using the revised Neuroticism-Extraversion-Openness personality inventory (NEO-PI-R) and eating behaviour using the Three-Factor Eating Questionnaire (TFEQ). Blood samples were collected for the measurement of serum inflammatory markers [interleukin-6 (IL-6), high-sensitive C-reactive protein (hsCRP)] and adipokines (leptin, adiponectin).

Results: At baseline, body mass index (BMI) was positively correlated with inflammatory markers and adipokines. Regression analyses adjusting for age and diabetes revealed that baseline concentrations of IL-6 and hsCRP were associated with the depression and anxiety facets of neuroticism, with higher inflammation predicting higher anxiety and depression. This association remained significant after adjusting for BMI. Gastric surgery induced significant weight loss, which correlated with reduced inflammation. After controlling for BMI variations, decreases in inflammatory markers, notably hsCRP, were associated with reduced anxiety and TFEQ-cognitive restraint scores.

Conclusions: These findings indicate strong associations between adiposity, inflammation and affectivity in obese subjects and show that surgery-induced weight loss is associated concomitantly with reduced inflammation and adipokines and with significant improvement in emotional status and eating behaviour. Inflammatory status appears to represent an important mediator of emotional distress and psychological characteristics of obese individuals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipokines / blood
  • Adiposity*
  • Affective Symptoms / blood
  • Affective Symptoms / etiology*
  • Bariatric Surgery / psychology*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Body Mass Index
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Extraversion, Psychological
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology
  • Feeding Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / blood
  • Inflammation / complications*
  • Interleukin-6 / blood
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurotic Disorders / blood
  • Neurotic Disorders / etiology
  • Obesity, Morbid / blood
  • Obesity, Morbid / complications*
  • Obesity, Morbid / psychology*
  • Obesity, Morbid / surgery
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Adipokines
  • Biomarkers
  • Interleukin-6
  • C-Reactive Protein