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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Type D personality is associated with increased metabolic syndrome prevalence and an unhealthy lifestyle in a cross-sectional Dutch community sample

Paula MC Mommersteeg*, Nina Kupper and Johan Denollet

Author Affiliations

CoRPS - Center of Research on Psychology in Somatic diseases, Dept. of Medical Psychology, Tilburg University, The Netherlands

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BMC Public Health 2010, 10:714  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-714

Published: 19 November 2010



People with Type D-Distressed-personality have a general tendency towards increased negative affectivity (NA), while at the same time inhibiting these emotions in social situations (SI). Type D personality is associated with an increased risk of adverse outcomes in patients with cardiovascular disease. Whether Type D personality is a cardiovascular risk factor in healthy populations remains to be investigated. In the present study, the relations between Type D personality and classical cardiovascular risk factors, i.e. metabolic syndrome and lifestyle were investigated in a Dutch community sample.


In a cross-sectional study 1592 participants were included, aged 20-80 years. Metabolic syndrome was defined by self-report, following the International Diabetes Federation-IDF-guidelines including an increased waist circumference, dyslipidemia, hypertension, and diabetes. In addition lifestyle factors smoking, alcohol use, exercise and dietary habits were examined. Metabolic syndrome prevalence was stratified by Type D personality (a high score on both NA and SI), lifestyle and confounders age, gender, having a partner, higher education level, cardiac history, family history of cardiovascular disease.


Metabolic syndrome was more prevalent in persons with a Type D personality (13% vs. 6%). Persons with Type D personality made poorer lifestyle choices, adhered less to the physical activity norm (OR = 1.5, 95%CI = 1.1-2.0, p = .02), had a less varied diet (OR = 0.50, 95%CI = 0.40-0.70, p < .0005), and were less likely to restrict their fat intake (OR = 0.70, 95%CI = 0.50-0.90, p = .01). Type D personality was related to a twofold increased risk of metabolic syndrome (OR = 2.2, 95%CI = 1.2-4.0, p = .011), independent of lifestyle factors and confounders.


Type D personality is related to an increased prevalence of metabolic syndrome and unhealthy lifestyle, which suggests both behavioral and biological vulnerability for development of cardiovascular disorders and diabetes.