University of Oulu

Ramzi NH, Yiorkas AM, Sebert S, Keinänen-Kiukaanniemi S, Ala-Mursula L, Svento R, et al. (2018) Relationship between BMI and emotion-handling capacity in an adult Finnish population: The Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966. PLoS ONE 13(9): e0203660.

Relationship between BMI and emotion-handling capacity in an adult Finnish population : the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966

Saved in:
Author: Ramzi, Nurul Hanis1,2; Yiorkas, Andrianos M.1,2; Sebert, Sylvain3,4;
Organizations: 1Section of Investigative Medicine, Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolism, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London
2Department of Life Sciences, College of Health and Life Sciences, Brunel University London
3Center for Life Course Health Research, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu
4Biocenter Oulu, University of Oulu
5Unit of Primary Health Care and Medical Research Center, Oulu University Hospital
6Medical Research Center Oulu, Oulu University Hospital and University of Oulu
7Department of Psychiatry, Research Unit of Clinical Neuroscience, Oulu University Hospital and University of Oulu
8Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, MRC-PHE Centre for Environment & Health, School of Public Health, Imperial College London
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.3 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Public Library of Science, 2018
Publish Date: 2018-10-26


Background: Alexithymia, a difficulty in identifying and expressing emotions, has been associated with obesity and eating disorders in small-scale cross-sectional studies. Here, we assess the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and alexithymia in a large cohort of free-living Finnish adults over a 15-year period.

Methods: Participants were drawn from the Northern Finnish Birth Cohort 1966 (NFBC1966). The 20-Item Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20) was used as a measure of alexithymia and was completed at the age of 31 years (31y: n = 4841), and 46 years (46y: n = 5404). BMI was recorded at both time points. Where data at both time points were available (n = 3274), the relationship between changes in BMI and TAS-20 over this time period was also investigated.

Results: BMI was significantly and positively associated with TAS-20 score (p<0.0001, both at 31 years and at 46 years of ages). The association remained statistically significant after adjustment for potential confounders (sex, marital status and several socio-economic indicators). In individuals who experienced the greatest change in BMI (in either direction) over the 15-year period, there was a modest mean increase in TAS-20 score.

Conclusions: Our data revealed that TAS-20 score was correlated with and co-varied with body mass status. We suggest that future clinical research should consider the role of alexithymia in obesity. Further investigation of this relationship is warranted to ensure that the needs of obese subjects with undiagnosed alexithymia are considered in the design of weight management programmes.

see all

Series: PLoS one
ISSN: 1932-6203
ISSN-E: 1932-6203
ISSN-L: 1932-6203
Volume: 13
Issue: 9
Article number: e0203660
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0203660
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3141 Health care science
3124 Neurology and psychiatry
Funding: NFBC1966 received financial support from the Academy of Finland [project grants 104781, 120315, 129269, 1114194, 24300796], University Hospital Oulu, Biocenter, University of Oulu, Finland [75617], and the Medical Research Council, UK. The program is currently being funded by the H2020-633595 DynaHEALTH action (to SS) and academy of Finland EGEA-project [285547]. The Section of Endocrinology and Investigative Medicine is funded by grants from the Medical Research Council, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), an Integrative Mammalian Biology (IMB) Capacity Building Award, an FP7- HEALTH- 2009- 241592 EuroCHIP grant and is supported by the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre Funding Scheme. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health. The first author, NHR, is also funded by MARA [Majlis Amanah Rakyat]. SS, LAM, SKK, JM and MRJ have received funding from the DynaHEALTH European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement [No 633595]. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
EU Grant Number: (633595) DYNAHEALTH - Understanding the dynamic determinants of glucose homeostasis and social capability to promote Healthy and active aging
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 120315
Detailed Information: 120315 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
129269 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
114194 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
285547 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2018 Ramzi et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.