Is Stress Making You Fat? Science Finds a New Link

According to a new study conducted by researchers at the University College London (UCL), long-term stress and obesity are linked. They failed to capture long-term cortisol levels.

To find out, English researchers compared stress levels and body weight of more than 2,500 men and women over age 54 who participated in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing.

While genetics, diet and lifestyle can have an impact on our weight, if you want to achieve your dream body - and simply reduce your risk to the aforementioned diseases - regulating your stress levels is key, the research suggests.

"It is possible, for example, that the social stigma that people with obesity often endure may cause mental stress and hence high cortisol levels", Ms.

The researchers also shared that while the method of measurement using hair cortisol was new, it offered an easy means to diagnose high levels of stress or concentrations in cortisol. This represented approximately two months' hair growth with associated accumulated levels of cortisol.

Those with more cortisol tended to be heavier with larger waists and a higher body mass index.

Scientists found those who had higher hair cortisol levels had a tendency to be larger and weigh more. Those classified as obese by either their BMI or waist circumference had particularly high levels of cortisol in their hair, the researchers report.

The study authors acknowledge that the findings are preliminary and a vast majority of the subjects studied so far, 98 percent, where white and British.

"It's providing glucose to the brain, keeping things going during a stressful event", Jackson said. "Really we need to have people get up and be active".

Married couples may be healthier than single, divorced or widowed adults, at least in part because they have lower levels of a stress hormone associated with a variety of medical problems, a recent study suggests. "Unfortunately, this study did not include assessments of daily stress exposure or daily social interactions to understand if these associations may be accounted for by variations in the daily lived experiences of married versus unmarried individuals".

Experts have linked chronic stress with emotional overeating and thus, obesity.

However, the researchers note that some previous studies have not found a relationship between marital quality and changes in cortisol levels over the course of a day.

Katz said there continues to be a tremendous amount of evidence that chronic stress is a serious factor in determining overall health, adding that the closely associated hormone, cortisol, "contributes to adipose tissue gain and obesity in particular".

  • Joanne Flowers