Metabolic Syndrome and Onset of Depressive Symptoms in the Elderly

Findings from the Three-City Study

  1. Karen Ritchie, PHD1,4
  1. 1Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM) U1061, F-34000 Montpellier, France, and the Université Montpellier I, Montpellier, France
  2. 2Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London, U.K.
  3. 3Centre Mémoire de Ressource et de Recherche, Languedoc Roussillon, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Montpellier, Montpellier, France; the
  4. 4Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College, London, U.K.
  5. 5INSERM U897, Bordeaux, France, and the Université Victor Segalen Bordeaux 2, Bordeaux, France; and
  6. 6INSERM U708, Paris, France, and the Hôpital de la Salpétrière, Paris, France
  1. Corresponding author: Tasnime N. Akbaraly, tasnime.akbaraly{at}


OBJECTIVE Given the increasing prevalence of both metabolic syndrome (MetS) and depressive symptoms during old age, we aimed to examine prospectively the association between MetS and the onset of depressive symptoms according to different age-groups in a large, general elderly population.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS This was a prospective cohort study of 4,446 men and women aged 65–91 years who were free of depression or depressive symptoms at baseline (the Three-City Study, France). MetS was defined using the National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III criteria. New onset of depressive symptoms (the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale score ≥16 and use of antidepressant treatment) was assessed at 2- and 4-year follow-ups.

RESULTS After adjusting for a large range of potential confounders, we observed MetS to be associated with 1.73-fold (95% CI 1.02–2.95) odds for new-onset depressive symptoms in the youngest age-group (65–70 years at baseline), independently of cardiovascular diseases. No such association was seen in older age-groups.

CONCLUSIONS Our findings suggest that the link between MetS and depressive symptoms evidenced until now in middle-aged people can be extended to older adults but not to the oldest ones. Additional research is needed to examine if a better management of MetS prevents depressive symptoms in people aged 65–70 years.


  • Received August 25, 2010.
  • Accepted January 22, 2011.

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  1. Diabetes Care vol. 34 no. 4 904-909
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