Cross-sectional and Longitudinal Associations Between Psychosocial Well-being and Cardiometabolic Markers in European Children and Adolescents

Barbara F. Thumann, Claudia Börnhorst, Wolfgang Ahrens*, Louise Arvidsson, Wencke Gwozdz, Isabel Iguacel, Staffan Mårild, Dénes Molnar, Stefan Rach, Paola Russo, Paola Russo, Toomas Veidebaum, Stefaan De Henauw, Nathalie Michels, I.Family Consortium, On behalf of the IDEFICS consortium

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Objective: Research examining aspects of positive mental health as potential predictors of cardiometabolic health in young populations is scarce. We investigated the associations between psychosocial well-being and waist circumference (WAIST), blood pressure (BP), the homeostasis model assessment for insulin resistance, triglycerides, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol considering life-style factors as mediators. Methods: Data of European children and adolescents participating in the baseline (2007/2008), first follow-up (FU1; 2009/2010) and second follow-up (FU2; 2013/2014) examinations of the IDEFICS/I.Family study were used (ncross-sectional = 6519; nlongitudinal = 1393). A psychosocial well-being score was calculated from 16 items on emotional well-being, self-esteem, and social relationships (0–48 points). Cardiometabolic markers were transformed to age- and sex-specific and, in case of BP, also height-specific z scores. Life-style factors included diet, physical activity, sleep, and electronic media use. Applying path analysis, we obtained unstandardized estimates of direct and indirect effects of well-being on cardiometabolic markers. Results: Cross-sectionally, well-being score showed a negative direct and a negative indirect effect through life-style factors on WAIST z score (estimate per 4-point increase, −0.051 [p = .001] and −0.014 [p < .001], respectively). Longitudinally, positive changes in well-being score between baseline and FU1 and between FU1 and FU2, respectively, demonstrated negative indirect effects through life-style factorsFU2 on WAIST z scoreFU2. Both cross-sectionally and longitudinally, higher levels of well-being showed lowering indirect effects on homeostasis model assessment, BP, and triglyceride z scores and an increasing indirect effect on high-density lipoprotein cholesterol z score through both life-style factors and WAIST z score. Conclusions: These results supported our hypothesis that a healthier life-style may be one mechanism through which higher well-being is linked with lower abdominal obesity and fewer other cardiometabolic disorders in young populations.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychosomatic Medicine
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)764-773
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020

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