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Stressed? It Can Make You Gain Weight

   |  Updated: February 24, 2017 12:49 IST

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Stressed? It Can Make You Gain Weight
Highlights
  • Stress is the easiest way to ruin your health.
  • Stress can affect your thoughts, feelings and behaviour
  • people under stress tend to overeat and seek comfort in foods
While there are many reasons why you must find time to ease off and do away with day-to-day stress, here's something that will definitely catch your attention. According to a new study, researchers have found that taking too much stress can make you fat and it's not just about overeating, there're more to it. Stress is the easiest way to ruin your health. While most of us have experience a stressful situation once in our lifetime, for some it is a day to day struggle. Stress can affect your thoughts, feelings, behaviour and even your body. This latest study, published in the Journal Obesity, gives you a reason to worry less. According to experts from the University College London, people who suffer long-term stress may also be more prone to gaining extra kilos overtime.

These findings are based on examination of hair samples for levels of cortisol, a hormone which regulates the body's response to stress. The study showed that exposure to higher levels of cortisol over several months is associated with people being more heavily, and more persistently, overweight. "People who had higher hair cortisol levels also tended to have larger waist measurements, which is important because carrying excess fat around the abdomen is a risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, and premature death," said lead researcher Sarah Jackson from the University College London. "These results provide consistent evidence that chronic stress is associated with higher levels of obesity," Jackson added.
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Chronic stress occurs a person has been subjected to a lot of mental pressure over a long period of time, especially in circumstances where the person has little or no control over the situation. For long now, many experts have linked chronic stress with emotional overeating and thus, obesity. It has been seen that people under stress tend to overeat and seek comfort in foods that are high in fat, sugar and calories. When in stressful situation, the adrenal glands release a hormone called cortisol which increases your appetite and ramps up the motivation to eat. This stress hormone also plays an important role in regulating your metabolism and determining where fat is stored.
 
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Many previous studies have showed that the rise of cortisol levels in the body is tied to obesity. These studies used measurements of the hormone in blood, saliva or urine determine the results which may vary according to the time of day and other situational factors. They failed to capture long-term cortisol levels.

The latest research involved 2,527 men and women aged 54 and older taking part in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, taking data over a four-year period. Scientists took a lock of hair two centimetre long from each participant which was cut as close possible to a person's scalp. This represented approximately two months' hair growth with associated accumulated levels of cortisol. Surprisingly, it was found that people with high levels of cortisol found in their hair strands had a higher body mass index and thus showed the tendency becoming obese or overweight.

With inputs from IANS

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