RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Men who score high on tests of hostility are more likely to gain weight, according to research published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. And as time goes on, the connection between anger and weight gain seems to grow stronger. Women also tend to weigh more if they test high for anger, but the phenomenon doesn’t worsen with time the way it does for men.
THE DETAILS: European researchers used data from a British study that tracked the health and behavior of thousands of civil servants over the course of 19 years. A survey determined their anger level at the beginning of the study, and follow-up doctor visits measured their changes in BMI (body mass index, a measure of obesity). There was a clear trend for everyone to gain weight as they aged, which comes as no surprise. The data also showed that, for both men and women, people who’d scored highest for anger tended to weigh the most. Among men, this effect seemed to increase over time, so that by the end of the study it was the angriest men who’d gained the most weight.
WHAT IT MEANS: The relationship between hostility and weight gain could be due to several factors: Anger could make you less likely to exercise, eat a healthy diet, or do other things that keep you healthy. It’s also possible that anger leads to conflict, causing stress in your life and making depression more likely. Whatever the reason, this study implies that getting anger under control is important for staying healthy, especially for men. Anger has also been linked to an increased risk for hypertension, heart disease, and other life-threatening ailments.
If you’re burning on a short fuse, here are some ways to simmer down: