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The journal of nutrition, health & aging

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 300–302 | Cite as

Body mass index is related to autonomic nervous system activity as measured by heart rate variability — A replication using short term measurements

  • Julian Koenig
  • M. N. Jarczok
  • M. Warth
  • R. J. Ellis
  • C. Bach
  • T. K. Hillecke
  • J. F. Thayer
Article

Abstract

Objectives

The present analysis is a replication of previous findings presenting first evidence of an association between body mass index (BMI) and autonomic nervous system (ANS) activity as measured by heart rate variability (HRV), in healthy non-obese adults.

Design

A total of fifty-nine apparently healthy male (M) and female (F) individuals (M/F = 15/44) were included in the trial. HRV data for analysis was derived from 5 minutes of baseline recordings, while the subject was sitting on a comfortable chair. Subjects’ body measures (weight and height) were taken and BMI was obtained according to common calculation (kg/m2).

Results

BMI was inversely related to pNN50 and RMSSD components of HRV. Statistically significant differences between stratified groups (BMI<20, BMI 20–25, BMI >25) only occurred for analysis of pNN50 components. The pNN50 components and RMSSD are strongly associated with cardiac vagal influence, and thus represents parasympathetic activity.

Conclusions

The present data supports previous findings, that sympatho-vagal balance is related to BMI in non-obese, healthy individuals, providing evidence for a prominent role of the vagus nerve in the modulation of the energy expenditure of the human organism. Furthermore, this relation can be observed in short term recordings of HRV of 5 minutes in length.

Key words

Autonomic nervous system body mass index vagus nerve HRV 

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Copyright information

© Serdi and Springer-Verlag France 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julian Koenig
    • 1
    • 5
  • M. N. Jarczok
    • 2
  • M. Warth
    • 1
  • R. J. Ellis
    • 3
  • C. Bach
    • 1
  • T. K. Hillecke
    • 1
  • J. F. Thayer
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Therapeutic SciencesSRH University HeidelbergHeidelbergGermany
  2. 2.Mannheim Institute of Public Health, Social and Preventive Medicine, Mannheim Medical FacultyHeidelberg UniversityMannheimGermany
  3. 3.Department of NeurologyBeth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  5. 5.SRH University HeidelbergHeidelbergGermany

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