Gender, alexithymia and physical inactivity associated with abdominal obesity in type 1 diabetes mellitus: a cross sectional study at a secondary care hospital diabetes clinic

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Background Obesity is linked to cardiovascular diseases and increasingly common in type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) since the introduction of intensified insulin therapy. Our main aim was to explore associations between obesity and depression, anxiety, alexithymia and self-image measures and to control for lifestyle variables in a sample of persons with T1DM. Secondary aims were to explore associations between abdominal and general obesity and cardiovascular complications in T1DM. Methods Cross sectional study of 284 persons with T1DM (age 18–59 years, men 56%), consecutively recruited from one secondary care hospital diabetes clinic in Sweden. Assessments were performed with self-report instruments (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, Toronto Alexithymia Scale-20 items and Structural Analysis of Social Behavior). Anthropometrics and blood samples were collected for this study and supplemented with data from the patients’ medical records. Abdominal obesity was defined as waist circumference men/women (meters): ≥1.02/≥0.88, and general obesity as BMI ≥30 kg/m2 for both genders. Abdominal obesity was chosen in the analyses due to the high association with cardiovascular complications. Different explanatory logistic regression models were elaborated for the associations and calibrated and validated for goodness of fit with the data variables. Results The prevalence of abdominal obesity was 49/284 (17%), men/women: 8%/29% (P < 0.001). Abdominal obesity was associated with women (AOR 4.9), physical inactivity (AOR 3.1), alexithymia (AOR 2.6) and age (per year) (AOR 1.04). One of the three alexithymia sub factors, “difficulty identifying feelings” (AOR 3.1), was associated with abdominal obesity. Gender analyses showed that abdominal obesity in men was associated with “difficulty identifying feelings” (AOR 7.7), and in women with use of antidepressants (AOR 4.3) and physical inactivity (AOR 3.6). Cardiovascular complications were associated with abdominal obesity (AOR 5.2). Conclusions Alexithymia, particularly the alexithymia subfactor “difficulty identifying feelings”, physical inactivity, and women, as well as cardiovascular complications were associated with abdominal obesity. As abdominal obesity is detrimental in diabetes due to its association with cardiovascular complications, our results suggest two risk factor treatment targets: increased emotional awareness and increased physical activity.


Enheter & grupper
Externa organisationer
  • Linnaeus University
  • Växjö Central Hospital
  • Skåne University Hospital

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Endokrinologi och diabetes


Sidor (från-till)1-11
TidskriftBMC Obesity
StatusPublished - 2017 jun 2
Peer review utfördJa