Long-Term Stress Linked to Weight Gain
A recent study published in the journal Obesity suggests that everyday stress can pack on the pounds. Researchers found that high levels of a stress hormone called cortisol are associated with a larger waist size and higher body mass index (BMI).
In this study, researchers evaluated stress levels and body weight of more than 2,500 men and women over the age of 54. They determined stress levels by measuring cortisol levels in hair follicle growth indicating about two months' time. Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands and released into the bloodstream in times of stress. This hormone suppresses inflammation, helps regulate blood pressure, helps maintain blood sugar levels, and provides an energy boost to handle emergency situations. It also plays a role in metabolism, body composition, and the accumulation of body fat.
The study did not show a cause-effect relationship between stress and obesity, but suggests chronic exposure to high levels of cortisol from stress could contribute to weight gain and make weight loss more difficult. More research is needed, but stress management is an important goal to maintain health.
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