Date of Completion


Document Type

Honors College Thesis


University of Vermont College of Arts and Sciences Department of Biology & Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont Department of Psychiatry

Thesis Type

College of Arts and Science Honors, Honors College

First Advisor

Dr. Robert Althoff

Second Advisor

Dr. Alicia Ebert

Third Advisor

Dr. Donna Toufexis & Dr. Bryan Ballif


metabolic syndrome, depression, anxiety, children and adults, obesity, psychiatry


Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of five factors (elevated systolic blood pressure, elevated blood glucose, elevated triglycerides, large waist circumference, and decreased HDL) that are related to a greater chance of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. There is evidence that metabolic syndrome is correlated with depression, but the directionality and mechanism is unclear. There is also dispute in the literature as to whether there is a correlation with anxiety and metabolic syndrome. In this study, levels of depression and anxiety determined from questionnaires and interviews (Adult Self Report, Child Behavior Checklist, Kiddie Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia-Present and Lifetime, and the Composite International Diagnostic Interview) were compared with the five factors of metabolic syndrome in 100 three-person families. In children and adolescents, elevated triglycerides were predictive of elevated depressive behavior above the age of 12.68 (pppp < .05 respectively). Additionally, a lower SES, older age, greater anxious behavior, and being male were all predictive of greater overall metabolic risk. Results implicate an age-moderated difference in how metabolic factors affect depression in children, possibly having a mechanism coinciding or affected by puberty. In adults, the directionality seems to reverse, with the anxious behavior having an effect on the metabolic syndrome factor, possibly related to stress and inflammation. Further research is needed to study these mechanisms and elucidate the connections between the disorders.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.