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1.  Glycemia, Insulin Resistance, Insulin Secretion, and Risk of Depressive Symptoms in Middle Age 
Diabetes Care  2013;36(4):928-934.
OBJECTIVE
The extent to which abnormal glucose metabolism increases the risk of depression remains unclear. In this study, we investigated prospective associations of levels of fasting glucose and fasting insulin and indices of insulin resistance and secretion with subsequent new-onset depressive symptoms (DepS).
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
In this prospective cohort study of 3,145 adults from the Whitehall II Study (23.5% women, aged 60.6 ± 5.9 years), baseline examination included fasting glucose and insulin level, the homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA2-%IR), and the homeostasis model assessment of β-cell insulin secretion (HOMA2-%B). DepS (Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale ≥16 or use of antidepressive drugs) were assessed at baseline and at 5-year follow-up.
RESULTS
Over the 5-year follow-up, DepS developed in 142 men and 84 women. Women in the lowest quintile of insulin secretion (HOMA2-%B ≤55.3%) had 2.18 (95% CI 1.25–3.78) times higher odds of developing DepS than those with higher insulin secretion. This association was not accounted for by inflammatory markers, cortisol secretion, or menopausal status and hormone replacement therapy. Fasting insulin measures were not associated with DepS in men, and fasting glucose measures were not associated with new-onset DepS in either sex.
CONCLUSIONS
Low insulin secretion appears to be a risk factor for DepS in middle-aged women, although further work is required to confirm this finding.
doi:10.2337/dc12-0239
PMCID: PMC3609527  PMID: 23230097
2.  Life Course Socioeconomic Position and Mid-Late Life Cognitive Function in Eastern Europe 
Objectives.
To investigate whether the positive relation between socioeconomic position (SEP) across the life course and later life cognitive function observed in Western populations exists in former communist countries with apparently smaller income inequalities.
Method.
Structural equation modeling analysis of cross-sectional data on 30,846 participants aged 45–78 years in four Central and Eastern European centers: Novosibirsk (Russia), Krakow (Poland), Kaunas (Lithuania), and six Czech towns from the HAPIEE (Health, Alcohol, and Psychosocial factors In Eastern Europe) study. SEP was measured using self-reported childhood (maternal education, household amenities), adult (education), and older adult (current material circumstances) indicators. Latent variable for cognition was constructed from word recall, animal naming, and letter search.
Results.
Associations between SEP measures over the life course and cognition were similar across study centers. Education had the strongest direct association with cognition, followed by current material circumstances. Indirect path from education to cognition, mediated by current SEP, was small. Direct path from mother’s education to cognition was significant but modest, and partially mediated by later SEP measures, particularly education.
Discussion.
In these Eastern European populations, late life cognition reflected life course socioeconomic trajectories similarly to findings in Western countries.
doi:10.1093/geronb/gbu014
PMCID: PMC3983917  PMID: 24598045
Cognitive aging; Eastern Europe; Life course; Socioeconomic position.
3.  Education is associated with lower levels of abdominal obesity in women with a non-agricultural occupation: an interaction study using China’s four provinces survey 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:769.
Background
The prevalence of obesity is increasing rapidly in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) as their populations become exposed to obesogenic environments. The transition from an agrarian to an industrial and service-based economy results in important lifestyle changes. Yet different socioeconomic groups may experience and respond to these changes differently. Investigating the socioeconomic distribution of obesity in LMICs is key to understanding the causes of obesity but the field is limited by the scarcity of data and a uni-dimensional approach to socioeconomic status (SES). This study splits socioeconomic status into two dimensions to investigate how educated women may have lower levels of obesity in a context where labour market opportunities have shifted away from agriculture to other forms of employment.
Methods
The Four Provinces Study in China 2008/09 is a household-based community survey of 4,314 people aged ≥60  years (2,465 women). It was used to investigate an interaction between education (none/any) and occupation (agricultural/non-agricultural) on high-risk central obesity defined as a waist circumference ≥80 cm. An interaction term between education and occupation was incorporated in a multivariate logistic regression model, and the estimates adjusted for age, parity, urban/rural residence and health behaviours (smoking, alcohol, meat and fruit & vegetable consumption). Complete case analyses were undertaken and results confirmed using multiple imputation to impute missing data.
Results
An interaction between occupation and education was present (P = 0.02). In the group with no education, the odds of central obesity in the sedentary occupation group were more than double those of the agricultural occupation group even after taking age group and parity into account (OR; 95%CI: 2.21; 1.52, 3.21), while in the group with any education there was no evidence of such a relationship (OR; 95%CI: 1.25; 0.92, 1.70). Health behaviours appeared to account for some of the association.
Conclusion
These findings suggest that education may have a protective role in women against the higher odds of obesity associated with occupational shifts in middle-income countries, and that investment in women’s education may present an important long term investment in obesity prevention. Further research could elucidate the mechanisms behind this association.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-769
PMCID: PMC3844357  PMID: 23962144
Socioeconomic status; Obesity; Low- and middle-income countries; Epidemiology; Women; China; Education; Occupation; Waist circumference; Transition
4.  Association of Lifecourse Socioeconomic Status with Chronic Inflammation and Type 2 Diabetes Risk: The Whitehall II Prospective Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(7):e1001479.
Silvia Stringhini and colleagues followed a group of British civil servants over 18 years to look for links between socioeconomic status and health.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Socioeconomic adversity in early life has been hypothesized to “program” a vulnerable phenotype with exaggerated inflammatory responses, so increasing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in adulthood. The aim of this study is to test this hypothesis by assessing the extent to which the association between lifecourse socioeconomic status and type 2 diabetes incidence is explained by chronic inflammation.
Methods and Findings
We use data from the British Whitehall II study, a prospective occupational cohort of adults established in 1985. The inflammatory markers C-reactive protein and interleukin-6 were measured repeatedly and type 2 diabetes incidence (new cases) was monitored over an 18-year follow-up (from 1991–1993 until 2007–2009). Our analytical sample consisted of 6,387 non-diabetic participants (1,818 women), of whom 731 (207 women) developed type 2 diabetes over the follow-up. Cumulative exposure to low socioeconomic status from childhood to middle age was associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in adulthood (hazard ratio [HR] = 1.96, 95% confidence interval: 1.48–2.58 for low cumulative lifecourse socioeconomic score and HR = 1.55, 95% confidence interval: 1.26–1.91 for low-low socioeconomic trajectory). 25% of the excess risk associated with cumulative socioeconomic adversity across the lifecourse and 32% of the excess risk associated with low-low socioeconomic trajectory was attributable to chronically elevated inflammation (95% confidence intervals 16%–58%).
Conclusions
In the present study, chronic inflammation explained a substantial part of the association between lifecourse socioeconomic disadvantage and type 2 diabetes. Further studies should be performed to confirm these findings in population-based samples, as the Whitehall II cohort is not representative of the general population, and to examine the extent to which social inequalities attributable to chronic inflammation are reversible.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Worldwide, more than 350 million people have diabetes, a metabolic disorder characterized by high amounts of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Blood sugar levels are normally controlled by insulin, a hormone released by the pancreas after meals (digestion of food produces glucose). In people with type 2 diabetes (the commonest form of diabetes) blood sugar control fails because the fat and muscle cells that normally respond to insulin by removing sugar from the blood become insulin resistant. Type 2 diabetes, which was previously called adult-onset diabetes, can be controlled with diet and exercise, and with drugs that help the pancreas make more insulin or that make cells more sensitive to insulin. However, as the disease progresses, the pancreatic beta cells, which make insulin, become impaired and patients may eventually need insulin injections. Long-term complications, which include an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, reduce the life expectancy of people with diabetes by about 10 years compared to people without diabetes.
Why Was This Study Done?
Socioeconomic adversity in childhood seems to increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes but why? One possibility is that chronic inflammation mediates the association between socioeconomic adversity and type 2 diabetes. Inflammation, which is the body's normal response to injury and disease, affects insulin signaling and increases beta-cell death, and markers of inflammation such as raised blood levels of C-reactive protein and interleukin 6 are associated with future diabetes risk. Notably, socioeconomic adversity in early life leads to exaggerated inflammatory responses later in life and people exposed to social adversity in adulthood show greater levels of inflammation than people with a higher socioeconomic status. In this prospective cohort study (an investigation that records the baseline characteristics of a group of people and then follows them to see who develops specific conditions), the researchers test the hypothesis that chronically increased inflammatory activity in individuals exposed to socioeconomic adversity over their lifetime may partly mediate the association between socioeconomic status over the lifecourse and future type 2 diabetes risk.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
To assess the extent to which chronic inflammation explains the association between lifecourse socioeconomic status and type 2 diabetes incidence (new cases), the researchers used data from the Whitehall II study, a prospective occupational cohort study initiated in 1985 to investigate the mechanisms underlying previously observed socioeconomic inequalities in disease. Whitehall II enrolled more than 10,000 London-based government employees ranging from clerical/support staff to administrative officials and monitored inflammatory marker levels and type 2 diabetes incidence in the study participants from 1991–1993 until 2007–2009. Of 6,387 participants who were not diabetic in 1991–1993, 731 developed diabetes during the 18-year follow-up. Compared to participants with the highest cumulative lifecourse socioeconomic score (calculated using information on father's occupational position and the participant's educational attainment and occupational position), participants with the lowest score had almost double the risk of developing diabetes during follow-up. Low lifetime socioeconomic status trajectories (being socially downwardly mobile or starting and ending with a low socioeconomic status) were also associated with an increased risk of developing diabetes in adulthood. A quarter of the excess risk associated with cumulative socioeconomic adversity and nearly a third of the excess risk associated with low socioeconomic trajectory was attributable to chronically increased inflammation.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show a robust association between adverse socioeconomic circumstances over the lifecourse of the Whitehall II study participants and the risk of type 2 diabetes and suggest that chronic inflammation explains up to a third of this association. The accuracy of these findings may be affected by the measures of socioeconomic status used in the study. Moreover, because the study participants were from an occupational cohort, these findings need to be confirmed in a general population. Studies are also needed to examine the extent to which social inequalities in diabetes risk that are attributable to chronic inflammation are reversible. Importantly, if future studies confirm and extend the findings reported here, it might be possible to reduce the social inequalities in type 2 diabetes by promoting interventions designed to reduce inflammation, including weight management, physical activity, and smoking cessation programs and the use of anti-inflammatory drugs, among socially disadvantaged groups.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001479.
The US National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse provides information about diabetes for patients, health-care professionals, and the general public, including information on diabetes prevention (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information for patients and carers about type 2 diabetes; it includes peoples stories about diabetes
The nonprofit Diabetes UK also provides detailed information about diabetes for patients and carers, including information on healthy lifestyles for people with diabetes, and has a further selection of stories from people with diabetes; the nonprofit Healthtalkonline has interviews with people about their experiences of diabetes
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources and advice about diabetes (in English and Spanish)
Information about the Whitehall II study is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001479
PMCID: PMC3699448  PMID: 23843750
5.  Association between common mental disorder and obesity over the adult lifecourse 
Background
Prospective data on the association between common mental disorders and obesity are scarce, and the impact of ageing on this association is poorly understood.
Aims
To examine the association between common mental disorders and obesity (BMI≥30 kg/m2) across the adult life course.
Methods
6832 men and 3348 women aged 35-55 were screened 4 times during a 19-year follow-up (the Whitehall II study). Each screening included measurements of mental disorders (the General Health Questionnaire), weight, and height.
Results
The excess risk of obesity in the presence of mental disorders increased with age (p=0.004). The estimated proportion of obese people was 5.7% at age 40 both in the presence and absence of mental disorders, but the corresponding figures were 34.6% and 27.1% at age 70. The excess risk did not vary by sex or according to ethnic group or socioeconomic position.
Conclusion
The association between common mental disorders and obesity becomes stronger at older ages.
Conflict of interest
No conflict of interest declared (MK, GDB, ASM, HN, SS, AGT, TNA, JV, MGM, MJ)
doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.108.057299
PMCID: PMC2770241  PMID: 19648547
7.  Unfairness and health: evidence from the Whitehall II Study 
Objective
To examine the effects of unfairness on incident coronary events and health functioning.
Design
Prospective cohort study. Unfairness, sociodemographics, established coronary risk factors (high serum cholesterol, hypertension, obesity, exercise, smoking and alcohol consumption) and other psychosocial work characteristics (job strain, effort–reward imbalance and organisational justice) were measured at baseline. Associations between unfairness and incident coronary events and health functioning were determined over an average follow‐up of 10.9 years.
Participants
5726 men and 2572 women from 20 civil service departments in London (the Whitehall II Study).
Main outcome measures
Incident fatal coronary heart disease, non‐fatal myocardial infarction and angina (528 events) and health functioning.
Results
Low employment grade is strongly associated with unfairness. Participants reporting higher levels of unfairness are more likely to experience an incident coronary event (HR 1.55, 95% CI 1.11 to 2.17), after adjustment for age, gender, employment grade, established coronary risk factors and other work‐related psychosocial characteristics. Unfairness is also associated with poor physical (OR 1.46, 95% CI 1.20 to 1.77) and mental (OR 1.54, 95% CI 1.19 to 1.99) functioning at follow‐up, controlling for all other factors and health functioning at baseline.
Conclusions
Unfairness is an independent predictor of increased coronary events and impaired health functioning. Further research is needed to disentangle the effects of unfairness from other psychosocial constructs and to investigate the societal, relational and biological mechanisms that may underlie its associations with health and heart disease.
doi:10.1136/jech.2006.052563
PMCID: PMC2465722  PMID: 17496260
8.  The impact of cash transfers to poor women in Colombia on BMI and obesity: prospective cohort study 
Introduction
Prevalence of obesity is rising in Latin America, is increasingly affecting socially disadvantaged groups, particularly women. Conditional cash transfers are recently established welfare interventions in the region. One, Familias en Accion, transfers ~20% of average monthly income to women in Colombia’s poorest families. Previous work has found that families buy more food as a result.
We tested the hypothesis that participation in Familias would be associated with increasing body mass index (BMI) in participating women
Methods
Women from participating areas and control areas (matched on environmental and socioeconomic criteria) were surveyed in 2002 and 2006. Pregnant, breast-feeding or women aged<18 or with BMI<18.5kg/m2 were excluded. The sample comprises 835 women from control and 1238 from treatment areas. Because some treatment areas started Familias shortly before baseline data collection, a dummy variable was created that identified exposure independent of time-point or area. Follow-up was 61.5%.
BMI was measured by trained personnel using standardized techniques. Overweight was defined as BMI>25kg/m2 and obesity as >30kg/m2. The effect of Familias was estimated using linear regression (or logistic regression for dichotomous outcomes) in a double-difference technique, controlling for several individual, household and area characteristics, including parity and baseline BMI, using robust standard-errors clustered at area-level in an intention-to-treat analysis.
Results
At baseline, women’s mean age was 33.3 years and mean BMI 25.3kg/m2; 12.3% women were obese. After adjustment, exposure to Familias was significantly associated with increased BMI (β=0.25, 95% CI 0.03, 0.47; p=0.03). Age (β=0.09; 95%CI 0.06, 0.13; p<0.001) and household wealth (β=0.78; 95%CI 0.41, 1.15; p<0.001) were also positively associated with BMI. Familias was also associated with increased odds of obesity (O.R.=1.27 95%CI 1.03, 1.57; p=0.03), as was age (O.R.=1.04; 95%CI 1.02, 1.06; p=0.001).
Conclusion
Conditional cash transfers to poor women in Colombia are independently associated with increasing BMI and obesity risk. Although conditional cash transfers are generally regarded as popular and successful schemes, parallel interventions at individual, household and community level are needed to avoid unanticipated adverse outcomes.
doi:10.1038/ijo.2011.234
PMCID: PMC3378481  PMID: 22143619
11.  Job Strain as a Risk Factor for Leisure-Time Physical Inactivity: An Individual-Participant Meta-Analysis of Up to 170,000 Men and Women 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2012;176(12):1078-1089.
Unfavorable work characteristics, such as low job control and too high or too low job demands, have been suggested to increase the likelihood of physical inactivity during leisure time, but this has not been verified in large-scale studies. The authors combined individual-level data from 14 European cohort studies (baseline years from 1985–1988 to 2006–2008) to examine the association between unfavorable work characteristics and leisure-time physical inactivity in a total of 170,162 employees (50% women; mean age, 43.5 years). Of these employees, 56,735 were reexamined after 2–9 years. In cross-sectional analyses, the odds for physical inactivity were 26% higher (odds ratio = 1.26, 95% confidence interval: 1.15, 1.38) for employees with high-strain jobs (low control/high demands) and 21% higher (odds ratio = 1.21, 95% confidence interval: 1.11, 1.31) for those with passive jobs (low control/low demands) compared with employees in low-strain jobs (high control/low demands). In prospective analyses restricted to physically active participants, the odds of becoming physically inactive during follow-up were 21% and 20% higher for those with high-strain (odds ratio = 1.21, 95% confidence interval: 1.11, 1.32) and passive (odds ratio = 1.20, 95% confidence interval: 1.11, 1.30) jobs at baseline. These data suggest that unfavorable work characteristics may have a spillover effect on leisure-time physical activity.
doi:10.1093/aje/kws336
PMCID: PMC3521479  PMID: 23144364
cohort studies; exercise; physical activity; psychosocial factors; working population
12.  Combined Effects of Depressive Symptoms and Resting Heart Rate on Mortality: The Whitehall II Prospective Cohort Study 
The Journal of clinical psychiatry  2010;72(9):1199-1206.
Objective
To examine the combined effects of depressive symptoms and resting heart rate (RHR) on mortality.
Methods
Data come from 5936 participants, aged 61 ± 6 years, from the Whitehall II study. Depressive symptoms were assessed in 2002–2004 using the center-for-epidemiologic-studies-depression-scale (score ≥ 16). RHR was measured at the same study phase via electrocardiogram. Participants were assigned to 1 of 6 risk-factor-groups based on depression status (yes/no) and RHR categories (<60, 60 – 80, >80 bpm). Mean follow-up for mortality was 5.6 years.
Results
In mutually adjusted Cox regression models, depression (hazard ratio = 1.93 p<0.001) and RHR>80 bpm (hazard ratio = 1.67, p<0.001) were independent predictors of mortality. After adjustment for potential confounding and mediating variables, participants with both depression and high RHR had a 3.0-fold higher (p<0.001) risk of death compared to depression-free participants with RHR ranging from 60 to 80 bpm. This risk is particularly marked in participants with prevalent CHD.
Conclusions
This study provides evidence that the coexistence of depressive symptoms and elevated RHR is associated with substantially increased risk of death compared to those without these two factors. This finding raises the possibility that treatments that improve both depression and RHR might improve survival.
doi:10.4088/JCP.09m05901blu
PMCID: PMC3226937  PMID: 21208592
depression; resting heart rate and mortality
13.  Economic difficulties and physical functioning in Finnish and British employees: contribution of social and behavioural factors 
Background: Childhood and current economic difficulties are associated with physical health. However, evidence concerning the factors underlying these associations is sparse. This study examines the contribution of a range of social and behavioural factors to associations between economic difficulties and physical functioning. Methods: We used comparable data on middle-aged white-collar employees from the Finnish Helsinki Health Study cohort (n = 3843) and the British Whitehall II Study cohort (n = 3052). Our health outcome was physical functioning measured by the SF-36 Physical Component Summary. Relative indices of inequality (RII), calculated using logistic regression analysis, were used to examine associations between economic difficulties and physical functioning, and the contribution of further socio-economic circumstances, health behaviours, living arrangements and work–family conflicts to these associations. Results: In age-adjusted models, childhood (RII = 1.76−3.06) and current (RII = 1.79−3.03) economic difficulties were associated with poor physical functioning in both cohorts. Further adjusting for work–family conflicts attenuated the associations of current economic difficulties with physical functioning in both cohorts, and also those of childhood economic difficulties in the Helsinki cohort. Adjustments for other socio-economic circumstances also caused some attenuation, while health behaviours and living arrangements had small or negligible effects. Conclusions: Conflicts between work and family contribute to the associations of economic difficulties with physical functioning among employees from Finland and Britain. This suggests that supporting people to cope with economic difficulties, and efforts to improve the balance between paid work and family may help employees maintain good physical functioning.
doi:10.1093/eurpub/ckq089
PMCID: PMC3139100  PMID: 20616102
comparisons; employees; physical functioning; SF-36; socio-economic position
14.  Does cognitive reserve shape cognitive decline? 
Annals of neurology  2011;70(2):296-304.
Objectives
Cognitive reserve is associated with a lower risk of dementia but the extent to which it shapes cognitive aging trajectories remains unclear. Our objective is to examine the impact of three markers of reserve from different points in the lifecourse on cognitive function and decline in late adulthood.
Methods
Data are from 5234 men and 2220 women, mean age 56 years (standard deviation=6) at baseline, from the Whitehall II cohort study. Memory, reasoning, vocabulary, phonemic and semantic fluency were assessed three times over 10 years. Linear mixed models were used to assess the association between markers of reserve (height, education, and occupation) and cognitive decline, using the 5 cognitive tests and a global cognitive score composed of these tests.
Results
All three reserve measures were associated with baseline cognitive function, with strongest associations with occupation and the weakest with height. All cognitive functions except vocabulary declined over the 10 year follow-up period. On the global cognitive test, there was greater decline in the high occupation group (−0.27; 95% confidence interval (CI): −0.28, −0.26) compared to the intermediate (−0.23; 95% CI: −0.25, −0.22) and low groups (−0.21; 95% CI: −0.24, −0.19); p=0.001. The decline in reserve groups defined by education (p=0.82) and height (p=0.55) was similar.
Interpretation
Cognitive performance over the adult lifecourse was remarkably higher in the high reserve groups. However, rate of cognitive decline did not differ between reserve groups except occupation where there was some evidence of greater decline in the high occupation group.
doi:10.1002/ana.22391
PMCID: PMC3152621  PMID: 21563209
15.  Interaction between Education and Household Wealth on the Risk of Obesity in Women in Egypt 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e39507.
Background
Obesity is a growing problem in lower income countries particularly among women. There are few studies exploring individual socioeconomic status indicators in depth. This study examines the interaction of education and wealth in relation to obesity, hypothesising that education protects against the obesogenic effect of wealth.
Methods
Four datasets of women of reproductive age from the Egyptian Demographic and Health Surveys spanning the period 1992–2008 are used to examine two distinct time periods: 1992/95 (N = 11097) and 2005/08 (N = 23178). The association in the two time periods between education level and household wealth in relation to the odds of being obese is examined, and the interaction between the two socioeconomic indicators investigated. Estimates are adjusted for age group and area of residence.
Results
An interaction was found between the association of education and wealth with obesity in both time periods (P-value for interaction <0.001). For women with the lowest education level, moving up one wealth quintile was associated with a 78% increase in the odds of obesity in 1992/95 (OR; 95%CI: 1.78; 1.65,1.91) and a 33% increase in 2005/08 (OR; 95%CI: 1.33; 1.26,1.39). For women with the highest level of education, there was little evidence of an association between wealth and obesity (OR; 95%CI: 0.82; 0.57,1.16 in 1992/95 and 0.95; 0.84,1.08 in 2005/08). Obesity levels increased most in women who were in the no/primary education, poorest wealth quintile and rural groups (absolute difference in prevalence percentage points between the two time periods: 20.2, 20.1, and 21.3 respectively).
Conclusion
In the present study, wealth appears to be a risk factor for obesity in women with lower education levels, while women with higher education are protected. The findings also suggest that a reversal in the social distribution of obesity risk is occurring which can be explained by the large increase in obesity levels in lower socioeconomic groups between the two time periods.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0039507
PMCID: PMC3384649  PMID: 22761807
16.  The relationship between social network, social support and periodontal disease among older Americans 
Aim
The objectives of this study were to examine the relationship between social network, social support and periodontal disease among older American adults and to test whether social network and support mediates socioeconomic inequality in periodontal disease.
Materials and Methods
Data pertaining to participants aged 60 years and over from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001-2004 was used. Periodontal disease variables were extent loss of periodontal attachment ≥ 3mm, and moderate periodontitis. Social support and networks were indicated by need for emotional support, number of close friends and marital status.
Results
Widowed and those with lowest number of friends had higher rates of the extent of loss of periodontal attachment (1.27,95%CI:1.03,1.58) and (1.22,95%CI:1.03,1.45), respectively. Marital status and number of friends were not significantly associated with moderate periodontitis after adjusting for behavioural factors. The need for more emotional support was not related to periodontal disease in this analysis. Social networks and support had no impact on socioeconomic inequality in periodontal disease.
Conclusion
Certain aspects of social network, namely being widowed and having fewer friends were linked to the extent of loss of periodontal attachment but not to the definition of moderate periodontitis, in older adults.
doi:10.1111/j.1600-051X.2011.01713.x
PMCID: PMC3091988  PMID: 21362014
Periodontal disease; social network; social support; older adults
17.  Natural Course of Recurrent Psychological Distress in Adulthood 
Journal of affective disorders  2010;130(3):454-461.
Background
The course of major depressive disorder is often characterized by progressing chronicity, but whether this applies to the course of self-reported psychological distress remains unclear. We examined whether the risk of self-reported psychological distress becomes progressively higher the longer the history of distress and whether prolonged history of distress modifies associations between risk markers and future distress.
Methods
Participants were British civil servants from the prospective Whitehall II cohort study (n=7934; 31.5% women, mean age 44.5 years at baseline) followed from 1985 to 2006 with repeat data collected in 7 study phases. Psychological distress was assessed with the 30-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ). Sex, socioeconomic status, marital status, ethnicity, physical activity, alcohol consumption, smoking, and obesity were assessed as risk markers.
Results
Recurrent history of psychological distress was associated with a progressively increasing risk of future distress in a dose-response manner. Common risk markers, such as low socioeconomic status, non-White ethnicity, being single, and alcohol abstinence were stronger predictors of subsequent distress in participants with a longer history of psychological distress. Sex differences in psychological distress attenuated with prolonged distress history.
Limitations
The participants were already adults in the beginning of the study, so we could not assess the progressive chronicity of psychological distress from adolescence onwards.
Conclusions
These data suggest that self-reported psychological distress becomes more persistent over time and that a longer prior exposure to psychological distress increases sensitivity to the stressful effects of certain risk markers.
doi:10.1016/j.jad.2010.10.047
PMCID: PMC3062710  PMID: 21106248
Chronic distress; Kindling hypothesis; Longitudinal; Recurrence
18.  Height loss and future coronary heart disease in London: the Whitehall II study 
Background
While several plausible biological mechanisms have been advanced for the association between greater physical stature and lower coronary heart disease (CHD) risk in prospective cohort studies, the importance of one of the principal artifactua explanations – reverse causality due to shrinkage – remains unresolved. To explore this issue, studies with repeat measurements of height are required, however, to date, such data have been lacking.
Methods
We analysed data from the Whitehall II prospective cohort study of 3802 men and 1615 women who participated in a physical examination in 1985/88, had their height re-measured in 1997/99, and were then followed for fatal and non-fatal CHD.
Results
A mean follow-up of 7.4 years after the second height measurement gave rise to 69 CHD events in men (18 in women). After adjustment for baseline CHD risk factors, greater loss of physical stature between survey and resurvey was associated with an increased risk of CHD in men (hazard ratio; 95% CI for a one SD increase: 1.24; 1.00, 1.53) but not women (0.93; 0.58, 1.50).
Conclusions
It is possible that reverse causality due to shrinkage may contribute to the inverse association between a single measurement of height and later CHD in other studies.
doi:10.1136/jech.2009.103986
PMCID: PMC3226938  PMID: 20805197
19.  Obesity, unexplained weight loss and suicide: The original Whitehall study 
Journal of Affective Disorders  2008;116(3):218-221.
Background
Evidence on the association between obesity and suicide is mixed. However, the strength of obesity as a predictor of suicide may be reduced, because of the role of weight changes associated with mental disorders. We tested the hypothesis that both obesity and unexplained weight loss are related to elevated suicide risk.
Methods
A clinical examination with measurements of height, weight and self-reported unexplained weight loss was conducted at baseline for 18,784 men aged 40 to 69. Based on national mortality register, 61 suicides were identified during the 38-year follow-up.
Results
The age-adjusted hazard ratio for suicide among obese versus normal weight men was 2.22 (95% CI 0.94 to 5.28). Additional adjustment for unexplained weight loss raised this ratio to 2.48 (95% CI 1.04 to 5.92). Unexplained weight loss was associated with a substantial excess risk of suicide irrespective of obesity (age-adjusted hazard ratio 5.38, 95% CI 2.31 to 12.50; age- and obesity-adjusted hazard ratio 5.58, 95% CI 2.37 to 13.13).
Limitations
Inability to take into account the effect of depression as a potential mediating mechanism.
Conclusions
This study provides evidence that both obesity and unexplained weight loss may be important predictors of suicide. Lack of adjustment for weight loss may suppress the observed association between obesity and suicide.
doi:10.1016/j.jad.2008.12.002
PMCID: PMC3319297  PMID: 19097646
BMI; overweight; public sector; suicide; weight loss; work
20.  TRAJECTORIES OF DEPRESSIVE EPISODES AND HYPERTENSION OVER 24 YEARS: THE WHITEHALL II PROSPECTIVE COHORT STUDY 
Hypertension  2011;57(4):710-716.
Prospective data on depressive symptoms and blood pressure (BP) are scarce, and the impact of age on this association is poorly understood. The present study examines longitudinal trajectories of depressive episodes and the probability of hypertension associated with these trajectories over time. Participants were 6,889 men and 3,413 women London based civil servants, aged 35–55 years at baseline, followed for 24 years between 1985 and 2009. Depressive episode (defined as scoring 4 or more on the General Health Questionnaire-Depression subscale or using prescribed antidepressant medication) and hypertension (systolic/diastolic blood pressure ≥ 140/90 mm Hg or use of antihypertensive medication) were assessed concurrently at five medical examinations. In the fully adjusted longitudinal logistic regression analyses based on Generalized-Estimating-Equations using age as the time scale, participants in the “increasing depression” group had a 24% (p<0.05) lower risk of hypertension at ages 35–39, compared to those in the “low/transient depression” group. However, there was a faster age-related increase in hypertension in the “increasing depression” group, corresponding to a 7% (p<0.01) greater increase in the odds of hypertension for every each five-year increase in age. A higher risk of hypertension in the first group of participants was not evident before age 55. A similar pattern of association was observed in men and women although it was stronger in men. This study suggests that the risk of hypertension increases with repeated experience of depressive episodes over time and becomes evident in later adulthood.
doi:10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.110.164061
PMCID: PMC3065997  PMID: 21339474
Depression; hypertension; longitudinal analysis; repeated measures
21.  Combined effects of depressive symptoms and resting heart rate on mortality: the Whitehall II prospective cohort study 
The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry  2010;72(9):1199-1206.
Objective
To examine the combined effects of depressive symptoms and resting heart rate (RHR) on mortality.
Methods
Data come from 5936 participants, aged 61 ±6 years, from the Whitehall II study. Depressive symptoms were assessed in 2002–2004 using the center-for-epidemiologic-studies-depression-scale (score ≥16). RHR was measured at the same study phase via electrocardiogram. Participants were assigned to 1 of 6 risk-factor-groups based on depression status (yes/no) and RHR categories (<60, 60–80, >80 bpm). Mean follow-up for mortality was 5.6 years.
Results
In mutually adjusted Cox regression models, depression (hazard ratio = 1.93 p<0.001) and RHR>80 bpm (hazard ratio = 1.67, p<0.001) were independent predictors of mortality. After adjustment for potential confounding and mediating variables, participants with both depression and high RHR had a 3.0-fold higher (p<0.001) risk of death compared to depression-free participants with RHR ranging from 60 to 80 bpm. This risk is particularly marked in participants with prevalent CHD.
Conclusions
This study provides evidence that the coexistence of depressive symptoms and elevated RHR is associated with substantially increased risk of death compared to those without these two factors. This finding raises the possibility that treatments that improve both depression and RHR might improve survival.
doi:10.4088/JCP.09m05901blu
PMCID: PMC3226937  PMID: 21208592
depression; resting heart rate and mortality
22.  Socioeconomic and ethnic differences in use of lipid-lowering drugs after deregulation of simvastatin in the UK: the Whitehall II prospective cohort study 
Atherosclerosis  2010;215(1):223-228.
Background
We examined socioeconomic and ethnic differences in use of lipid-lowering drugs after deregulation of simvastatin in the UK for adults with moderate or high risk of coronary heart disease.
Methods
3631 participants in the Whitehall II cohort study (mean age 62.7 years, 91% white) were informed of their risk of coronary heart disease, based on Framingham score, before deregulation (2002–2004). Use of prescribed lipid-lowering drugs and use of over-the-counter simvastatin were analysed as outcome variables, after deregulation (2005–2007).
Results
2451 participants were at high risk and 1180 at moderate risk. 20% moderate-risk and 44% high-risk participants reported using prescribed lipid-lowering drugs although no over-the-counter simvastatin was used. Prescribing rates did not differ between employment grades (an index of socioeconomic position), but was higher among South Asian high-risk compared with White high-risk participants (odds ratio 1.64, 95% CI 1.21 to 2.23). Of the high-risk participants, 44% recalled their increased coronary heart disease risk. South Asian high-risk participants were less likely to recall than White high-risk participants (odds ratio 0.65, 95% CI 0.46–0.93). Furthermore, high risk participants with middle (odds ratio 0.74, 95% CI. 0.61–0.89) and low (odds ratio 0.52, 95% CI 0.37–0.74) employment grades were less likely to recall than those with high grades.
Conclusion
Socioeconomic and ethnic differences in reported use of lipid-lowering drugs were small, but the use of these drugs in general was much lower than recommended and the participants did not utilise over-the-counter statins. Ethnic minorities and lower socioeconomic position groups were less likely to be aware of their increased coronary risk.
doi:10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2010.12.012
PMCID: PMC3249398  PMID: 21227420
statin; pharmacoepidemiology; cardiovascular risk; inequalities; socioeconomic position; ethnicity
23.  Long working hours and symptoms of anxiety and depression: a 5-year follow-up of the Whitehall II study 
Background
Although long working hours are common in working populations, little is known about the effect of long working hours on mental health.
Method
We examined the association between long working hours and onset of depressive and anxiety symptoms in middle-aged employees. Participants were 2960 full-time employees aged 44 to 66 (2248 men, 712 women) from the prospective Whitehall II cohort study of British civil servants. Working hours, anxiety and depressive symptoms, and covariates were measured at baseline (1997–1999) followed by two subsequent measurements of depressive and anxiety symptoms (2001 and 2002–2004).
Results
In prospective analysis of participants with no depressive symptoms (n=2549) or anxiety symptoms (n=2618) at baseline, Cox proportional hazard analysis adjusted for baseline covariates showed a 1.66-fold (95% CI 1.06–2.61) risk of depressive symptoms and a 1.74-fold (1.15–2.61) risk of anxiety symptoms among employees working more than 55 hours a week compared with employees working 35–40 hours a week. Sex-stratified analysis showed an excess risk of depression and anxiety associated with long working hours among women [hazard ratios 2.67 (1.07–6.68) and 2.84 (1.27–6.34)] but not men [1.30 (0.77–2.19) and 1.43 (0.89–2.30)].
Conclusions
Working long hours is a risk factor for development of depressive and anxiety symptoms in women.
doi:10.1017/S0033291711000171
PMCID: PMC3095591  PMID: 21329557
Work hours; depression; anxiety; overtime work; prospective
24.  Anti-depressant medication use and C-reactive protein: Results from two population-based studies 
Brain, behavior, and immunity  2010;25(1):168-173.
The use of anti-depressant medication has been linked to cardiovascular disease (CVD). We examined the association between anti-depressant medication use and a marker of low grade systemic inflammation as a potential pathway linking anti-depressant use and CVD in two population based studies. Data were collected in a representative sample of 8,131 community dwelling adults (aged 47.4 ± 15.9 yrs, 46.7% male) from the Scottish Health Surveys (SHS). The use of anti-depressant medication was coded according to the British National Formulary and blood was drawn for the measurement of C-reactive protein (CRP). In a second study, we attempted to replicate our findings using longitudinal data from the Whitehall II study (n=4584, aged 55.5 ± 5.9 yrs, mean follow-up 5.5 years). Antidepressants were used in 5.6% of the SHS sample, with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) being the most common. There was a higher risk of elevated CRP (>3 mg/L) in users of tricyclic antidepressant (TCA) medication (multivariate adjusted odds ratio (OR) = 1.52, 95% CI, 1.07 – 2.15), but not in SSRI users (multivariate adjusted OR = 1.07, 95% CI, 0.81 – 1.42). A longitudinal association between any antidepressant use and subsequent CRP was confirmed in the Whitehall cohort. In summary, the use of anti-depressants was associated with elevated levels of systemic inflammation independently from the symptoms of mental illness and cardiovascular co-morbidity. This might be a potential mechanism through which antidepressant medication increases CVD risk. Further data are required to explore the effects of dosage and duration of antidepressant treatment.
doi:10.1016/j.bbi.2010.09.013
PMCID: PMC3014524  PMID: 20863880
Cardiovascular risk; depression; inflammation; selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors; tricyclic antidepressant
25.  Risk factors for pancreatic cancer mortality: extended follow-up of the original Whitehall study 
Given the well-established links between diabetes and elevated rates of pancreatic cancer, there are reasons to anticipate that other markers of metabolic abnormality (raised body mass index, plasma cholesterol, and blood pressure) and their correlates (physical activity and socio-economic status) may also confer increased risk of pancreatic cancer. However, to date, the results of a series of population-based cohort studies are inconclusive. We examined these associations in the original Whitehall cohort study of 17,898 men. A maximum of thirty-eight years of follow-up gave rise to 163 deaths due to carcinoma of the pancreas. While Poisson regression analyses confirmed established risk factor disease associations for increasing age, smoking and type II diabetes, there was essentially no evidence that body mass index (rate ratio; 95% confidence interval per one SD increase: 1.01; 0.86, 1.18), plasma cholesterol (per one SD increase: 0.91; 0.78, 1.07), diastolic blood pressure (per one SD increase: 0.93; 0.78, 1.09), systolic blood pressure (per one SD increase: 0.98; 0.83, 1.15), physical activity (sedentary vs. high: 1.37; 0.89, 2.12), or socio-economic status (clerical[low] vs. professional/executive: 0.95; 0.59, 1.51) offered any predictive value for pancreatic cancer mortality. These results were unchanged following control for a range of covariates.
doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-08-1032
PMCID: PMC3226943  PMID: 19190162

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