The objective of this study was to investigate the extent to which risk of gaining weight or body fat is affected by emotional health in women. A secondary objective was to determine the influence of age, baseline weight and body fat, physical activity (PA), energy intake, and changes in PA and energy intake, on the relationship between emotional health and gains in weight and body fat. The study was a prospective cohort investigation over 20 months of 256 healthy, non-obese females (age: 35-45 y, BMI < 30 kg/m2). All subjects were assessed for several variables using objective measurements at baseline and again at 20 months. Emotional health was assessed using the General Well-Being Schedule. Body fat percentage was indexed using the Bod Pod. PA was measured objectively using MTI (CSA) accelerometers, and energy intake was measured using weighed, 7-day food records. The results of the study demonstrated that risk of gains in weight and body fat were no greater in depressed women compared to their counterparts. However, 171 (66.8%) subjects demonstrated less than positive (LTP) emotional health at baseline, and 37.4% of these subjects gained weight during the 20-month study. Conversely, 85 (33.2%) subjects had positive emotional health at baseline, but only 23.5% gained weight over the investigational period. With no variables controlled, women with LTP emotional health had 59% greater risk of weight gain over the study period than women with positive emotional health (RR 1.59, 95% CI = 1.04-2.44). Women with LTP emotional health were at no greater risk of gains in body fat percentage than women with positive emotional health (RR 0.96, 95% CI = 0.70-1.33). After adjusting for each potential confounder individually, risk of gaining weight or body fat did not change. However, after adjusting for all of the potential confounders simultaneously, risk of weight gain was weakened (RR 1.43, 95% CI = 0.93-2.21). These results seem to demonstrate that middle-aged women with LTP emotional health may be at increased risk of gaining weight compared to women with positive emotional health.



College and Department

Life Sciences; Exercise Sciences



Date Submitted


Document Type





weight gain, emotional health, depression, physical activity, dietary intake