Serum cholesterol and impulsivity in a large sample of healthy young men

Flavio Pozzi, Alfonso Troisi, Marco Cerilli, A. M. Autore, C. Lo Castro, D. Ribatti, Gaetano Frajese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Studies that have investigated the association between cholesterol levels and impulsivity are relatively few in number and have yielded equivocal results. In this study, we investigated the relationship between impulsivity, depression and serum lipids [total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and triglycerides] in a large sample (N=2051) of healthy young men who were remarkably homogeneous in terms of age, educational level, and socioeconomic conditions. Depression was assessed using the depression scale of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2, and impulsivity was measured using the impulse control scale of the Big Five Questionnaire (BFQ). We found that subjects with a low serum cholesterol, defined as the lowest tenth of the total cholesterol distribution (≤3.7 mmol/l), scored significantly lower on the impulse control scale of the BFQ. There was no significant association between depression and cholesterol concentrations. In addition, in a multiple regression model, both lower levels of total cholesterol and higher levels of HDL cholesterol emerged as significant predictors of impulsivity. However, since the regression model accounted for only 0.6% of the variance in the score on the impulse control scale of the BFQ, the biological significance of these correlations was negligible. Taken together, these findings suggest that, in healthy young men, a relationship between cholesterol and impulsivity emerges only when the statistical analysis focuses on subjects with very low levels of cholesterol.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-245
Number of pages7
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Oct 15 2003


  • Cholesterol
  • Depression
  • Healthy men
  • Impulsivity
  • Personality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Psychology(all)


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