Development and Psychopathology


Social encounters in daily life and 2-year changes in metabolic risk factors in young women

Kharah Rossa1 c1, Tara Martina1, Edith Chena1 and Gregory E. Millera1

a1 University of British Columbia


Research shows that poor social ties increase risks of morbidity and mortality from cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, little is known about the nature of everyday social encounters that give rise to this association, or when in the course of development they begin to shape disease-relevant biological processes. In this study, 122 adolescent females recorded the qualities of their everyday social interactions using electronic diaries. At the same time we measured components of the metabolic syndrome, a precursor to CVD that includes central adiposity, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, and lipid dysregulation. Metabolic symptoms were reassessed 12 and 24 months later. Hierarchical linear modeling revealed an association between negative social interactions and metabolic symptom trajectories. To the extent that participants had more intense negative social encounters in daily life, they showed increasing scores on a composite indicator of metabolic risk over 2 years. This association was independent of a variety of potential confounders, and persisted when symptoms of depression and broader personality traits were controlled. There was no association between positive social encounters and metabolic risk trajectories. These findings suggest that even in otherwise healthy adolescents, abrasive social encounters may accelerate the progression of early stages of CVD.

(Online publication July 15 2011)


c1 Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Kharah Ross, Department of Psychology University of British Columbia, 2136 West Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada; E-mail:


This research was supported by grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (67191), the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada (to G.E.M.).