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Improvements in Hostility and Depression in Relation to Dietary Change and Cholesterol Lowering: The Family Heart Study

Gerdi Weidner, PhD; Sonja L. Connor, MS; Jack F. Hollis, PhD; and William E. Connor, MD
[+] Article and Author Information

Grant Support: By grants from the National Institutes of Health (HL40368, HL20910, HL25687, and DK40566) and Biomedical Research Support (RR0706721).

Requests for Reprints: Gerdi Weidner, PhD, Department of Psychology, State University of New York at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, NY 11794-2500.

Current Author Addresses: Dr. Weidner: Department of Psychology, State University of New York at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, NY 11794-2500.

Ms. Connor and Dr. Connor: Department of Medicine, Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland, OR 97201-3098.

Dr. Hollis: Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, 3800 N. Kaiser Center Drive, Portland, OR 97227.


© 1992 American College of PhysiciansAmerican College of Physicians


Ann Intern Med. 1992;117(10):820-823. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-117-10-820
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Objective: To describe changes in negative emotions among participants of a cholesterol-lowering study.

Design: Cohort study. Quantitative evaluation of changes in negative emotions in relation to diet and plasma cholesterol levels before and after a 5-year dietary intervention program aimed at reducing plasma cholesterol levels.

Setting: Community-dwelling families of the Family Heart Study, Portland, Oregon.

Participants: One hundred forty-nine men and 156 women from 233 families (mean age, 37.7 years).

Measurements: Changes in negative emotions including depression and aggressive hostility as measured by the Hopkins Symptom Checklist (SCL-90).

Results: Improvement in overall emotional state was noted for the entire sample. Those who consumed a low-fat, high complex-carbohydrate diet at the end of the study showed significantly greater improvements in depression (P = 0.044; difference in improvement, 2.9 points) and aggressive hostility (P = 0.035; difference in improvement, 3.3 points) as well as a reduction in their plasma cholesterol levels (P = 0.024; difference in improvement, 2.7%) compared with those who ate a high-fat "American diet."

Conclusions: Participation in a cholesterol-lowering program may not be associated with a worsening in emotional state. To the contrary, improvements in diet appear to be associated with reductions in depression and aggressive hostility as well as with lowered plasma cholesterol levels.

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