Chronic Stress Makes Food Make You Fatter


New research out of UC San Francisco is the first to demonstrate that highly stressed people who eat a lot of high-fat, high-sugar food are more prone to health risks than low-stress people who eat the same amount of unhealthy food.

“Chronic stress can play an important role in influencing biology, and it’s critical to understand the exact pathways through which it works.” said Kirstin Aschbacher, PhD, an assistant professor in the UCSF Department of Psychiatry and lead author.

“Many people think a calorie is a calorie, but this study suggests that two women who eat the same thing could have different metabolic responses based on their level of stress,” Aschbacher said. “There appears to be a stress pathway that works through diet – for example, it could be similar to what we see in animals, where fat cells grow faster in response to junk food when the body is chronically stressed.”

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of abnormalities – increased blood pressure, a high blood sugar level, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels – that occur together, increasing a person’s risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

While this stress-junk food pathway has been well mapped out with rodents and primates, this study is the first to suggest the same pathways may be at work in chronically stressed humans, according to the researchers.

“We can see this relationship exists by simply measuring stress and dietary intake, and looking inside at metabolic health,” said senior author Elissa Epel, PhD. “Diet appears to be a critical variable that can either amplify or protect against the metabolic effects of stress, but we still don’t know the details of how much it takes. It will be helpful to see what happens in our next study, when we have high stress people eat a high sugar diet for a couple weeks.”

Examining a Stress-Related Biomarker in Women

The study, published online in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, looked at a group of 61 disease-free women; 33 were chronically stressed women caring for a spouse or parent with dementia, and 28 were women with low stress.

Over the course of a year, the women reported their consumption of high sugar, high fat foods.

The researchers evaluated key biological markers associated with elevated metabolic risk. They measured participants’ waistlines and their fat distribution, using ultrasound scans to assess deep abdominal fat deposits. They tested participants’ insulin resistance, one of the core drivers of obesity and diabetes.

They also used a blood test to measure stress hormones and oxidative damage to lipids and cell RNA, a marker that has predicted higher rates of death from diabetes. Oxidative damage of the genome is also an important outcome because it is one factor that can contribute to faster cellular aging.

“We found that more frequent high-fat, high-sugar consumption significantly predicted a larger waistline, more truncal fat, higher oxidative damage, and more insulin resistance, but only among the group of women exposed to chronic stress,” said Aschbacher. “The chronically stressed women didn’t report eating more high sugar, high fat foods than the low stressed women; however, they did have higher levels of a stress-related biomarker, peripheral Neuropeptide Y (NPY).”

The Role of Chronic Stress in Disease Processes

Based on what is known from animal studies, stress triggers greater peripheral NPY which, in combination with junk food, creates larger abdominal fat cells, and these cells may be more prone to metabolic dysregulation.

“The medical community is starting to appreciate how important chronic stress is in promoting and worsening early disease processes,” said Aschbacher. “But there are no guidelines for ‘treating’ chronic stress.  We need treatment studies to understand whether increasing stress resilience could reduce the metabolic syndrome, obesity or diabetes.”


65 Responses to Chronic Stress Makes Food Make You Fatter

  1. 14018919 C.M Managanya May 10, 2014 at 6:41 pm #

    I believe stress to be both an environmental problem and also a psychological issue in which people tend to destruct themselves though eating junk food . Other people end up feeling as if they are fat and worry about getting bigger and end up binge eating. This is a misconception that many people need to move away from. Binge eating will only lead to further medical crisis with serious problems. Others tend to use the term of “bad gene” in order to get out of their laziness. Having a gene that codes for larger/smaller bona structure is no reason not to stay healthy. Remember that you only look as good on the outside as you do on the inside.

  2. Redelinghuys(14034302 May 5, 2014 at 3:23 am #

    Stress is something we all experience at some point in our lives. Stress is often believed to be a motivation and thus a positive input in studies, but this blog has now showed us that stress is not healthy at all. According to thus blog, individuals that stress have the tendency to gain weight easier, which could lead to a host of health issues.

    Also, obesity has been linked to poor academic achievement. Stress actually causes poor memory and obesity, two unattractive qualities.

    I believe that we should all try to stress less. Some people are stressed by nature, but we could all benefit by stressing less.

  3. 14238889 May 4, 2014 at 11:35 pm #

    I found this article to be really addressing to the serious matter that many of us is facing this days, which is chronic stress. I usually thought that being stress actually make one to lose weight, because the metabolic activities are taking place faster.Honestly speaking when people are stressed especially students during exams, they tend to eat a lot of junk food as a way of coping with stress and keeping their mind focused. I also do so myself, only to wake up one day with an increase in body weight. Managing stress is not an easy task for every one.

  4. Hlamalane S. Shilote 14005086 May 4, 2014 at 2:21 pm #

    Chronic stress affects one’s appetite and also changes their biological processes in the body thus enabling weight gain. Recent research done at Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco portray that it can also increase cortisol levels and disrupt the normal cortisol rhythms which in return causes damage in the body such as: raising one’s blood pressure, craving sugar due to hunger, reduced ability to burn fat and also the rate at which fat is stored in the body is increased as well.

    Metabolic rate for someone who is chronically stressed or who is not differs. Fat cells grow faster when junk is consumed by someone who is chronically stressed. Metabolic syndrome is experienced making them prone to the risk of having a stroke, heart disease or even diabetes. This results in a greater Peripheral Neuropeptide Y making that person to experience metabolic dysregulation.

    So next time someone is planning to lose weight any time soon they should try to decrease their stress levels and stop emotional eating as they are the key to weight gain instead of weight loss.

  5. u14036429 May 4, 2014 at 11:30 am #

    Obesity and over weight is a sensitive subject to some people. A reason for obesity and over weight is stress.

    Research on stress that causes weight gain shows that serotonin levels, a “feel good” hormone is produced and released if a person eats junk food. Because of the serotonin people eat more junk food to feel relived of the stress and gains weight in the prose

    Stress also causes that more Cortisol to be released into the blood stream. Cortisol stimulates a raise in blood sugar levels and causes that the person develops an appetite. The exes glucose is stored as fat and causes weight gain.

    it is often over looked that stress can cause health problems like obesity and many other health problems. If you suffer from obesity because of stress or just stress there is a lot of sites where help can be found on how to solve your problem

  6. Eva (14119596) May 4, 2014 at 11:02 am #

    It makes sense, because many people; especially women; find comfort in junk food when they are stressed, but these great amounts of stress is caused by modern time. Modern life is filled with stress caused by the demands of modern time. That is the big problem, it is almost as if life has become a race.

  7. Karla Grobler 12374972 May 4, 2014 at 10:38 am #

    This is an very interesting article and definitely makes you stop and think about your own eating habits. I definitely find that I also eat more unhealthy in times of stress. Like for instance in exam times I snack more. We should try to replace those calories with healthier options that benefit our bodies. This can also give us more energy which can help us cope with our stress better.

  8. Siobhan Marnewick (u14096422) May 4, 2014 at 8:25 am #

    This is an incredibly interesting study that was made , this just shows what big of an effect stress can have on the human body and your every day life. Controlling your stress levels are very important , because it doesn’t only have an influence on your mind and lifestyle but also a huge effect on your body itself. A study was also made that people with high stress levels tend to eat more especially high sugar based foods , because they find comfort in the food.

    I can see in my exam times or heavy stressed times if I have lots of work I tend to eat more , because you find a feel good hormone in the food you eat , thus it is very important to manage the stress you have in your life by exercising , breaking away for a bit , yoga etc. Anything that works for you.

  9. R Selepe (14164932) May 4, 2014 at 6:34 am #

    I found this article to be extremely informative. Being a person who stresses a lot, I have noticed that although I exercise it is hard for me to lose weight. I now know that I need to first reduce my stress levels before I can be successful in losing weight. However, this may be difficult because as it is said in the article, there are no guidelines to reducing chronic stress.

  10. u13236955 May 4, 2014 at 4:45 am #

    Managing stress is not easy. There are various methods used to manage stress. Stress affects us in different ways, for some people food is the only thing that seems to ease the pain. I strongly agree with the contents of this article. There is a stage whereby you don’t realize that you are actually eating more food than you anticipated. Stress can make your life complicated, you tend to forget easily, you suddenly become absent minded. Eating unhealthy food when feeling depressed is common for quite a number of women around the world.

  11. u13236955 May 4, 2014 at 4:37 am #

    Managing stress is not an easy.There are various methods used to manage stress. Stress affects us in different ways,for some people food is the only thing that seems to ease the pain.I strongly agree with the contents of this article.There is a stage whereby you don’t realize that you are actually eating more food than you anticipated.Stress can make your life complicated,you tend to forget easily,you suddenly become absent minded.Eating unhealthy food when feeling depressed is common for quite a number of women.

  12. u14090024 May 4, 2014 at 2:29 am #

    I suppose this is another reason why we should really learn to manage stress in our lives because stress in inevitable. Majority of the times high levels of stress do have bad outcomes and our health is always the number one target.

  13. Granger Taylor 14028532 May 4, 2014 at 1:18 am #

    This is an extremely informative passage. Statistics also reveal that the more stressed a person is the more prone that person in gaining belly fat which puts that person on cardiovascular disease risk. When a person is stressed they release the hormone cortisol which maintains blood pressure and regulates the body’s use of macronutrients. There are daily activities that can reduce the amount of cortisol such as; sufficient exercise, sufficient sleep, scheduled relaxation, and a decrease in the consumption of caffeine.

    It would be an interesting study to see the links between blood type and cortisol levels. According to Dr J’adamo blood type A’s are more prone to higher cortisol levels and therefore are more prone to gaining weight. Dr J’adamo also suggests that blood type A’s should do less strenuous exercise and more relaxed or meditative type exercise, such as yoga. This could influence how people construct exercise plans.

  14. 13103629 May 3, 2014 at 11:09 pm #

    Reading this piece about stress levels and the effect it has on weight gain made a bunch of light bulbs go on in my mind. I am an extremely stressed person and very prone to gaining weight and not losing it again. It seemed like the more I am worried about my weight, the less I am losing! It is now that I am realizing that getting stressed about it actually made it worse. This also explains why my roommate, who is the same age and body type, who eats and exercise the same amount as I do, seems to lose weight easier and keep a constant weight than me. She is a more happy-go-lucky person than me who worries less about everything and everyone than I do. Science is telling me to be more relaxed, and who am I to defy science!

  15. HyeJin (14298458) May 3, 2014 at 3:47 pm #

    This is such an interesting post on how stress is related to weight gain. I always wondered why my brother did not gain weight as much as I do while he eats much more than I do. I am sure metabolism may be one of the factors that influenced weight gain but this post made me think about how much stress I get everyday.

    I looked up and found one article that explained how stress makes one gain weight. It said that stress makes our body to release poisonous substances that produces waste products inside our blood system that will disrupt the flow of the blood. Thus, this will eventually decrease the rate of metabolism and bring about weight gain.

    I personally think I am a person who experience stress easily and now I think maybe it is affecting my weight and my health. This post is awesome. I think I should think more positively and bring about change in my mental health and my physical health.

  16. user 14032776 May 3, 2014 at 8:46 am #

    This is alarming to say the least .The reason being that the amount of individuals that suffer from depression has increased so much. The main reason for it being stress related.
    I find myself craving comfort food very often these days as I too am a first year student. The adapting process has been cause for much stress. The comfort of the food has very efficiently made the comfort of my jeans an unrealistic possibility.
    Being one of three females at home I couldn’t stress enough how wonderful it is knowing this research is being done. I’m sure I can count on a whole bunch of women who would join me on the sidelines cheering it on!

  17. Candice Lamb (u14291445) May 3, 2014 at 8:00 am #

    This type of research is very important in our day and age. It is important because of the increase in obesity in countries. In my opinion stress levels have increased in recent times because of added pressures that have been placed in society. Obesity is occurring in a younger age group because of the increased levels of stress.

    Oxytocin has been seen to be the ‘happy hormone’. People with increased levels of stress will crave things that cause the release of oxytocin. Such things can be chocolate and other sugar rich substances. This causes an increase in the consumption of unhealthy and fattening foods.

    People who are stressed can come times feel like they never have enough time to do all the tasks that they need to do. This may cause them to neglect gym or other forms of exercise because they would rather be completing important tasks I’m that time. Excel case has been proven to reduce stress levels, so while keeping your body fit and healthy it also reduces stress and therefore reduces the need to consume fatty or sugary substances that would otherwise be the replacement for oxytocin that everyone needs once in a while.

  18. Marulet Venter (14030153) May 3, 2014 at 6:54 am #

    I agree with the study. I’ve also found that stress can lead to a slower metabolism and a lazier lifestyle. But then I believe that being over stressed can cause your metabolism to speed up due to the need of energy and this will then result in weight loss. So I’m not sure how stress can lead to being over weight and I believe that it would cause someone to be under weight.

  19. u14150400 May 3, 2014 at 4:24 am #

    It is highly possible that stress that chronic stress can cause one to be fatter. Arccording to the information that I have, stress has numerous effects that in turn make people fat.
    Them being;
    1. It makes you hungry and crave sugar
    2. Reduces your ability to burn fat.
    3. Increases the rate at which you store fat
    4. Makes your cells less sensitive to insulin
    And many more…
    The rise of the cortisol levels that break down muscle tissue and increasing fat storage also predipose one to gain weight.

  20. 14074193 May 3, 2014 at 2:07 am #

    This topic is of critical importance as recent surveys show that South Africa is becoming a fat nation. “Seventy percent of South African women are overweight or obese, many people are unfit and we are heading for a non-communicable disease pandemic.” We need to educate the people of S.A on the effects of chronic stress and how it makes foods make you fatter, so we can reduce and prevent obesity and the related illnesses.

  21. 14105447-M Davids May 2, 2014 at 10:53 pm #

    Stress plays a role in many lives and most of the time people don’t even realise they are stressed. This causes the person to act in a different way without realising or doing strange things they don’t often do. Food is one of many coping mechanisms used by many to help them cope through a stressful time, most call it ‘comfort food’.

    I do think it can develop into a health risk when the person does not know they are stressed and then just eat fast foods, cakes and many other types of food containing many calories and sugar. This escalates to many other problems such as depression, cholesterol, lack of exercise and slow heart beat.

    Many people that are stressed see food as way to block out their problems and for that moment while eating, they feel relaxed and it’s almost as though all their stress has disapeared. Because they want to feel this way of blocking out the stress, they keep eating.

    Therefore this blog creates a good awareness factor, proving to people that food is not actualy a way out of stress.

  22. 14074193 May 2, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

    Recent studies show that stress not only makes you pick up weight due to this stress – junk food pathway spoken about in the article however it also makes it difficult to lose weight. When stress becomes chronic and prolonged, the hypothalamus is activated and triggers the adrenal glands to release a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is normally released in a specific rhythm throughout the day. This broken cortisol rhythm causes havoc in your body, there are many effects with the primary effects being: making you hungry and crave sugar and reduces your ability to burn fat.

  23. ngquke zimasa 14055041 May 2, 2014 at 1:24 pm #

    true indeed because i have been through that and i still face similar challenbes but i feel im in control of my stress now by excercising and seeking help from proffessionals, Since you say its null and void to do that what do you suggest we do to decrease our stress levels and leave a better balanced life?

  24. 14054567 May 2, 2014 at 10:16 am #

    Articles like this often help to shed some light on a rather controversial subject know as obesity and weight gain in general.

    Stress levels play an extremely important role in health related issues. When we look at weight gain, there is a lot of research that supports the fact that stress can lead to increased weight. This is due to a number of factors. As mentioned above, stress can cause a person to consume more junkfood in an attempt to increase serotonin levels, a “feel good” hormone.

    Another effect of stress is raising levels of cortisol secreted in the blood stream. Cortisol not olnly stimulates appetite, but also causes a raise in blood sugar levels. This causes excess glucose to be stored in the form of fat, leading to weight gain.
    Although several factors can influence one’s health and weight, it is important not to forget the most common one of all – stress. Individuals who question reasons for their weight gain can search for more information and guidelines towards better health online as well as other sources e.g. books.

    Here is a helpful link that provides a bit more information regarding the signs of high cortisol levels due to stress. http://lissarankin.com/10-signs-you-have-way-too-much-cortisol.

    I hope it helps =)

  25. Tumelo Tsotetsi (u14234379)) May 2, 2014 at 9:57 am #

    Stress is usually a manageable part of our lives but it affects our health the most when we think we’re coping just fine with what we have to deal with. It causes negative changes to the body directly and indirectly.

    Your body is able to function in a way that notifies you when you are in danger by triggering its stress response . When the body detects what it perceives to be a threat, your hypothalamus overworks your adrenal glands to produce high levels of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol which increase your heart rate and blood pressure to help you survive whatever danger you may be faced with (for example,if you’re swimming near a shark,this will give you a burst of energy to aid you in evading the area). However, if it’s frequently activated by everyday stressors, it can cause cortisol overload,which is directly disruptive to many bodily functions that would work just fine in the absence of stress.

    The cortisol suppresses the immune system, slows down digestion, stimulates your appetite, and may interfere with your brain’s ability to detect when you’ve had enough food. This indirectly causes disruption in your body because you begin to eat unhealthily without being aware of it. The same is true when you eat more unhealthy foods to cope with the stress.

    I think that stress is as dangerous as research has been revealing lately because we reach daily stress levels that our bodies are only supposed to be detecting in the case of emergencies that require the quickest responses. When we are that stressed everyday, our bodies end up compromising on other functions just to cope with the constant stress.

  26. 14031681 May 2, 2014 at 9:16 am #

    I think that it is interesting that chronic stress is directly related to the way the body reacts to certain fatty foods. However, every body is different in the way it digests fatty substances. What if a person who does have chronic stress has a fast working metabolism, or say a person who doesn’t have high stress levels has a slow metabolism? Won’t the results be the same?

  27. jacks May 2, 2014 at 7:37 am #

    interesting

  28. Razeena May 2, 2014 at 7:02 am #

    Razeena Bhol 14156343

    Many people who are overweight might think they’re fat because of unhealthy eating habits and a lack of a healthy lifestyle even though they do exercise regularly and try to eat healthily might not realise that they have a weight issue because of chronic stress. As shown in this article people who suffer from chronic stress can have issues with weight as their bodies’ fat cells expand faster than those in low-stress situations. The availability of ‘junk-food’ these days are also increasing which makes it easier for people suffering from chronic stress to buy ‘junk-food’ rather than trying to eat something that is low in fat and sugar.

  29. Monique Maartens (27114415) May 2, 2014 at 4:56 am #

    As I read through the article it reminded me of some articles I have read in magazines describing similar information on stress being related to weight gain. After reading the articles I feel a bit better and convince myself that it is ok that I have gained some weight as I have been under constant stress for a couple of years now. I have never “blogged” before and I first wanted to take some time to decide how I would like to express my opinion on this article. Other articles also suggest that more factors play a role in gaining weight such as the “craving” for carbs and fatty foods and the metabolism that slows down. Elisa Zied explains in her article (Does Stress Lead to Food Cravings and Weight Gain?) how serotonin levels are affected by these “comfort foods”, making it all seem to me like an unstoppable vicious cycle. My line of thinking was lead into a different direction that questioned why there is still continuous stress in our lives when technology is supposed to have made our lives easier. We have information readily available to increase our quality of life and to make the right choices to improve our lives. Eating plans, exercise tips and even life coping skills are just a click of a button away but we never seem to have enough time to get through everything and we still make the wrong choices regarding our health. This article captured my interest and also helped me to look at my own choices. Understanding that everything I eat may influence my health due to the stress I am constantly experiencing reminds me how I need to improve all aspects of my life. Many blogs have been posted on people’s interest on this topic and I think the article I referred to earlier compliments the same interests (http://www.foodandnutrition.org/May-2013/Does-Stress-Lead-to-Food-Cravings-and-Weight-Gain/).

  30. 14017386 May 2, 2014 at 1:53 am #

    After reading this article it made me realize that stress has huge negative effects on the body and our health. As a first year student at university the work load is enormous and I am constantly stressed out and battling to sleep. I gained weight around my stomach, have high cholesterol, back pain and this makes me depressed and even more stressed. I try not to eat to much but when I eat I feel better. I recently visited the doctor because I am battling to concentrate and focus on my studies and I was also informed that my problems could all be stress related and received medication for stress. After reading this article and research done it only confirms my doctors diagnose and I realize that I will have to find ways to cope better with chronic stress. It was also interesting to read S Swarts blog that 90% of doctors visits are due to stress because I am also one of the 90% statistics. I only wish that the article had more guidelines for treating chronic stress.

  31. 14262691 (Swart S) May 1, 2014 at 10:01 pm #

    Chronic stress is a severe problem that many people face like mentioned in previous comments and in the blog. Interestingly I found that studies show that 90% of all doctors’ visits are due to stress related illnesses. Also it is said that 43% of adults suffer from severe health affects due to stress. When we experience severe stress our bodies release the stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol and chronic stress can slow down our metabolism which can cause more weight gain than usual. Stress also causes emotional eating in some cases. When your stressed the likelihood to eat a salad is almost unlikely. Therefor it’s more likely for a person to eat fast food as it makes them feel better. As seen on http://stress.about.com/od/stresshealth/a/weightgain.htm . Looking at the information I gathered on the subject I agree with the blogs topic. Chronic stress can definitely lead to more weight gain. This blogged has helped me understand what great effects stress can have on a person’s body. Not only concerning physical health but further research has shown how stress affects ones mental health as well.

  32. N Prinsloo (14010454) May 1, 2014 at 9:30 pm #

    Today stress forms so part of our daily lives that we sometimes forget what it is really doing to us. Everyone falls under stress some time in their life. Some of us can handle it better than others. After reading this post, some things become more cleared to me. That is why I always tend for foods in high sugar and carbohydrates, it is not like I am going to go stand and cook a healthy meal. It is interesting to know that stress have an effect on your metabolic system. I always thought that good nutrition and exercise play the key element in your metabolic system. There is not one persons who metabolic system is the same, and stress plays a role in the way our metabolic system work. So if you are under stress your metabolic system is going to work slower, and thus you are going to gain weight. Now I understand the effects of stress better, it has an effect on our whole system. Gaining weight is not always the result of too much eating, but rather to much stress.

  33. 12337235 May 1, 2014 at 12:03 pm #

    It is amazing to see how hormonal changes can contribute to physical changes of the body and how stress can amplify the effect that fatty foods have on the body, this is very informative as i have also noticed that i always get a strong craving for junk food whenever i am stressing about something and i could never seem understand why this happened, this information has helped me realize the link between the two and will hopefully motivate others to manage their eating habits before they get seriously ill or gain weight. People sometimes take for granted the effect that stress has on their health and the easiest way out can sometimes be the worst remedy for them because eating junk food is easy and enjoyable but in actual fact it could just be the ladder to something that will cause even more stress than what they were trying to get over at that moment. therefore it is important for a special program to be created to aid those who cannot manage their stress, a place where they can be advised on alternatives to bad eating habits i believe this will truly make a difference in their lives.

  34. Neo 14003016 May 1, 2014 at 10:48 am #

    When an individual is prone top high levels of stress and even exposed to chronic stress, their bodies release stress via the adrenal glands. These stress hormones induce the fat activators in the belly which result in stressed people have the crave to consume fatty foods. Through consumption of fatty foods, one inevitably increases fatty deposits in their bodies, and this, thus results in an increase a person’s average weight.

    Calorie-rich foods help reduce high levels of fat in one’s body, but they also increase the muscle (fat) flab around their bellies. Comfort foods that are rich in fat and sugars may help alleviate stress and make it more bearable, yet the anticlimax to this is the indefinite weight gain which can increase levels of obesity.

  35. Hannah - 141 84 771 May 1, 2014 at 10:11 am #

    I have always suspected that stress and metabolism are related, which is why I really enjoyed this article as it added facts that proved suspicions.
    A general tendency that I have noticed is that a bad diet, say of high sugar and high fat foods, often affects a person and makes them more prone to chronic stress because of the body being unhealthy. Also chronic stress often affects the type of diet a person eats. Generally people who are more stressed crave unhealthy, fatty foods more than people who are unstressed. It is therefore evident that stress and unhealthy diets are closely linked and can cause a vicious cycle which can be difficult to escape.

  36. Meshack Kekana (14034388) May 1, 2014 at 9:57 am #

    This article is very interesting because most people that the reason they are fat is that they tend to eat too much, which then causes them to stress about how they look, but on the contrary the article proves that chronic stress is the leading cause of obesity. Its something which I actually never knew about till now!

  37. jack May 1, 2014 at 9:51 am #

    wow

  38. Lizanne Bester (u14100313) May 1, 2014 at 9:41 am #

    WOW!! I cannot wait for new studies to reveal how chronic stress can be treated!!! I am sure it will be of much value for many university students (as myself)!! This will not only help us handle stress, but it will give us a way to get totally rid of it! What a delightful idea!! But for now, with the information that the current study reveals, I at least know that I should watch what I am eating, especially during heavy stressed times!! This will not only ensure a healthier me, but I am sure it will help me with my studies as well!!! It is good to know that with technology constantly developing, there is lots of hope for our health to improve even more in the future!!!

    According to Wikipedia chronic stress is known as a response of pressure due to emotional instability, experienced for a certain period, where an individual thinks he or she has no control over. Corticosteroids are being released by the endocrine system as a response. Studies show that this steroid is at first beneficial for our health, but when our bodies are exposed of this steroid for a long period of time, it can get bad for our health. This can lead to high blood pressure, inhibition of growth, mental health, anxiety, depression and panic attacks, being just some of the symptoms of chronicle stress.

    It is definitely now known that chronicle stress is bad for your health and if not treated, holds various health risk factors.

    Stress-eating is a well-known stress releaser for many of us! According to the above study it is not the appropriate method of coping with stress as it in fact worsens the scenario. As the title of this topic states: ”Chronic Stress Makes Food Make You Fatter”

    Instead of stress-eating, you can use exercise, a healthy diet, relaxation techniques and hobbies as stress managers and it will definitely ensure a healthier you!!!

  39. 14095395 May 1, 2014 at 8:15 am #

    Chronic stress is a huge problem for most people and alot may act in the unhealthier way than most by indulging themselves with sweets and fast foods which only satisfy a person for only those few moments . Therefore I think it is extremely important for people to try and live a healthy daily life .And this can be done by just substituting those sweets and fatty goodies with healthier , more nutritional food such as vegetables and tasty fruits.

    People should know that there is alot of options out there and by doing this small life style change , there will be no need for people to experience any negative impact on their health due to a stimuli of a chronic stressor. People shouldn’t also think of eating vegetables as a diet as this can add to your stress levels just think of it as a lifestyle choice, as cliché as that sounds it is true though.

  40. Lerato u14345286 May 1, 2014 at 6:38 am #

    Depression,anger,pain and sadness can all be triggers of stress.Yes it is true that stress actually leads to people eating unhealthy resulting in a gain weight but for me it is a personal choice.Women turn to believe that when sad or stressed out eating ice cream,pizza,chips and chocolate helps one get rid of it.This however is not true what actually happens is the fact when they do eat these products they take their minds off what ever is bothering them it is like making some sort of a mind shift(channeling their energy to something else).

    However one would also agree with the fact that a number of people turn to actually loose when stressed out.This makes the topic questionable as it is not explained how it is possible.Don’t they eat?Do they loose appetite or don’t their bodies react to the kind of food that they eat to the kind of food those who gain weight eat?You decide.

    in conclusion one may say that yes stress plays a role in making people eat a lot and make them gain weight but it is more of a personal choice as there are people who loose weight due to stress.

  41. Priscilla Mukwevho(13375335) May 1, 2014 at 5:13 am #

    I personally found this article being so relevant because it is truly emphasizing what many people go through.A serious problem indeed

    what I have realized is that many people go through a lot of stress mainly because of too much work,specifically being under pressure,being a first year at varsity its also not easy looking at the speed used that one has to get used to it sometimes can be so stressing.Many people when they are stressed they turn to eat a lot without realizing how much this makes them fat.I could say I sometimes have this problem too because when i m stressed I turn to need chocolates by my side which is a bad habit.

    What is bad is that chronic stress makes it hard to loose weight,no matter how much people try to exercise.Stress is one of the most important factor that leads to many serious illnesses like obesity and diabetes but many seem to yet often ignore this. What makes things worse is stress eating,because many people eat less healthfully and sleep less well when stressed.

    More evidence show that chronic stress is really life threatening and it needs to be managed or either controlled before its really late and I think that’s what many people should really start doing.

  42. L Gounden (14005426) May 1, 2014 at 4:17 am #

    High stress levels are a result of the changes that take place in ones environment that might cause them to have a different response than others. Wouldn’t eating healthier at a constant rate through the day along with proper time management skills and exercise lead to effectively reducing stress levels?

    One can safely say that what happens to them is only because of the choices that they choose to make. Weight gain in individuals (especially women) can lead to even more problems but the individual has control over their lives so, why not choose to change the way in which they live their lives to a less stressful way in order to decrease the effects of weight gain due to high levels of stress?

    The body being under high levels of stress constantly may also cause hormones to imbalance and due to the consequences of this weight gain is a result of the abnormal functioning of the body.

    Chronic stress is only a result of the individual being under so much constant stressful situations that when the body is not stressed it might seem like a foreign feeling too the body and then the brain signals the systems to engage in that stressed state so that the calm feeling is no longer something that the person would not normally feel. Our body does have the ability to adapt.

    My point is however, stress levels can be controlled and effectively managed if the individual makes the right choices,has the right choice of diet and also chooses to see a medical professional.

  43. tshegofatjo May 1, 2014 at 3:42 am #

    These makes a lot of sense, stress does decrease metabolic rate of a human being due to hormonal shifts in the system.It tends to make people more fat because it creates an emergency alert in the brain’s nervous system of flight or fight where it stops digestion and provide energy available to the necessary organs for specified functions therefore food eaten is stored where else others eat for comfort especially food containing sugar which makes them “feel” better as they contain suppressants that minimises stress for a while but causes more damage than help to the body.(u14018625)

  44. Cara de Kock 14105064 May 1, 2014 at 3:20 am #

    A lot of things have increased over the last few decades. Society is constantly reminded about increasing petrol prices, increasing violence and increasing poverty. However, I do not think we are fully aware of the increasing stress levels among children and young adults these days.

    Out of personal experience, I can fully relate to this post. Being active and following a healthy lifestyle will also not help you keep off the excess weight if your stress levels are sky high. Eating the wrong types of food consisting of high fat and high energy, as mentioned in the above post, causes one to gain weight even though you maintain a relative active lifestyle and sweat a few mornings in the gym. High levels of stress are silent killers and especially do not belong under children or young adults at university.

    There are multiple support programs on campus for students struggling to cope with the workload and not adapting to the fast pace of the “real” world, but are these programs really effective? Is there not a more effective way to lower stress levels and ensure a stress free environment? Gaining weight because of too much stress only adds more stress to an individual and not being able to do anything about it worsens the scenario. The only solution is the effective lowering of stress levels. However, an EFFECTIVE way of doing so is the million dollar question.

  45. JK Descoins (12066631) May 1, 2014 at 3:08 am #

    I am not so surprised that the body reacts in a different manner to unhealthy foods when under high stress. From personal experience, the first food I would reach for when under a lot of stress would be something high in sugar or refined carbohydrates. I would assume that the reason would be because although one may be under mental stress and not physical stress (such as a survival situation), the body still interprets the high mental stress as a high-stress situation, in which some normal functions are slowed down and stopped in order to cope with the situation. When under high stress the sympathetic system is engaged, and with this, along with many other different reactions, the large intestine lowers in motility- decreasing the digestion rate. This, perhaps, could be related to the different metabolic reactions when unhealthy foods are eaten.

  46. C.Bone(14007071) May 1, 2014 at 2:46 am #

    Who would have ever thought that stress and unhealthy eating habits could be related? Well, this article proved just that. It is very unlikely that a person does not experience some sort of stress in this day and age. Stress is a way of life for most people in the 21st century. And for some , the effects go far beyond feelings of anxiousnous and discomfort. For most people, stress can mean facing each day ravenously hungry, adding weight gain to their list of worries. When one experiences chronic stress the body tends to release the corticotrophin hormone(CRH) as well as cortisol. Cortisol helps us replenish our body after the stress has passed, and it hangs around a lot longer which can result in an increase in appetite.

  47. 14074193 May 1, 2014 at 2:28 am #

    I am experiencing chronic stress. I am currently living alone and have resorted to a diet consisting mainly of junk food and quick fix unhealthy meals due to my lack of skills in the kitchen. In the past I have eaten unhealthily for long periods of time but I would not pick up any weight (I assumed I have a fast metabolism). However during the past few weeks I have put about 2-3 kilograms and my waist line has expanded. I cannot fit into my jeans anymore. I has a suspicion that my drastic increase in weight was due to stress and this article has proved me correct. I find it fascinating that my body has metabolically responded differently due to increase levels of stress!

  48. Lerissa 14158397 May 1, 2014 at 1:45 am #

    This research tackles a huge problem that is faced in many countries – obesity. This study makes people more aware about how bad stress eating is for one. Everyone is faced with stress, it is inevitable. Therefore by dealing with the core problem, such as why one is faced with stress, this can help avoid the preceding problems such as gaining weight due to eating junk food. I too have gained weight from all the stress at varsity but I have found that exercising instead of eating junk food as well as keeping to a healthy diet helps me reduce my stress levels as well as not put on weight. This study was extremely interesting and I think that it will help many stress eaters to realize why they gain more weight when they stress eat.

  49. LAB May 1, 2014 at 1:13 am #

    This is a very interesting topic to read about! I never knew that even though you might not be eating more food, the fat cells grow faster in response to junk food when a person is stressed. Although, I have always wondered about people who don’t eat when they are stressed and actually loose weight. How does our brain decide whether we eat or don’t eat when stressed? I believe that increasing stress resilience could definitely reduce the metabolic syndrome, obesity or diabetes. Therefore, I hope that treatment for chronic stress is discovered because it could save many lives.

  50. u14037832 May 1, 2014 at 12:49 am #

    This blog is highly relevant as it tackles two of the problems that are very common in modern society: stress and unhealthy eating habits. It is amazing to see how these two factors are linked and how stress in itself can effect the working of your metabolism. It also brings an understanding of how rodents and primates metabolism can be related to humans. This opens the eyes to the medical community that stress is an ever growing problem unfortunately there is no proven diagnosis process and cure. With regards to the coming study, could the increase of sugars in a diet plan actually result in higher productivity of the stress victim?

  51. 14050626 April 30, 2014 at 11:19 pm #

    What an interesting topic! I would never have guessed that stress can play such a great role on one’s weight. Obviously there are stress eaters(like myself) but I didn’t realise that a higher stress level can make fatty foods fattier. I found this very informative and I believe anyone can use this information to lose extra weight by doing other things to lower stress levels instead of stress eating. I know I’m definitely going to try it for a stress free healthier me!

  52. 14116121 April 30, 2014 at 11:05 pm #

    In today’s society it is impossible to not be faced with any stress. Not only do people have busy lives that include excelling at their jobs or studies, but they also have personal issues such as ill family members and financial problems that could possibly increase stress levels.

    As the above article said, studies have shown that prolonged stress could affect one’s health; it increases the risk of heart disease. Stress however also causes one too crave more sugary foods with more calories and thus making a stressed person gain more weight than a person with little or no stress. This fact is interestingly important, especially to first year university students.

    The “first year spread” is the cause of stress. With the pressure to do well and other stress factors causes an increase in appetite for certain foods; these foods, of course, along with stress causes weight gain. Not only students, but all people should be aware of stressful factors in their life as to reduce the negative impact stress might have on their health in the future.

  53. U14253837 April 30, 2014 at 9:58 pm #

    Stress is really a big issue under students. University is a very big step from school and therefore students have a lot more stress when they reach university. First year students are scared to go to university as there is a “first-year syndrome” that a lot of people are aware of and that is when first year students gain weight. This is due to the stress levels of student that increase tremendously.

    I totally agree with Nonhle Xulu that if there are no solutions found, there will be a domino effect because people result to diet pills, crazy diets -such as the tapeworm diet- or -even worse- eating disorders just to lose the fat. This is a big problem under students as they tend to use additional weight-loss methods to lose weight. In some conditions, students even go as far as to use drugs in order to relax and lower their stress levels.

    Especially during exam times, students consume a lot more food than normally and this usually leads to an increase in weight. Very few students are aware of the fact that highly stressed people, who eat a lot of high-fat, high-sugar food are more prone to health risks than low-stress people who eat the same amount of unhealthy food.

    People, especially students, must start to be more aware of their stress levels and to eat healthy food instead of consuming a load of high-fat, high-sugar food. Eating healthy food will not just help you balance your weight, but is a lot better food for one’s brain in order to think straight. Chronic stress is a very big problem and everyone should be more informed about this as it can have an impact on anyone.

  54. V.Matiwane u14010187 April 30, 2014 at 12:35 pm #

    Chronic stress does not only make food, make you fatter, but it is also associated with many other health risks. Chronic stress has become very common in modern life. I have done a bit of research and it makes sense now, because I know every time I am stressed during exams I tend to eat more than usual and put on a bit of weight. Chris Kresser states that chronic stress provoke defeat response which leads to increase fat storage, abdominal obesity and tissue break down. When stress becomes chronic the hypothalamus is activated and triggers the adrenal glands to release a hormone called cortisol, it disrupts the natural cortisol rhythm which wreaks disorder on your body, and causes your blood sugar to raise, makes you hungry and grave sugar, reduce your ability to burn fat, and increase the rate at which you store fat. This can all lead to diabetes and can make you fat.

  55. 14053170 April 30, 2014 at 11:13 am #

    I found this article to be incredibly interesting. Everyone obviously copes with stress differently, this research is just proving how differently everyone’s bodies really do work! The fact that your body can respond to your stress in such an impressive way is actually mind-blowing. The biomarker, peripheral Neuropeptide Y (NPY), indicates that an individual has high levels of stress. This biomarker along with the consumption of high sugar, high fatty foods, can cause people to gain weight. This in turn can put an individual at an increased risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes. This newly found information can be used in our society in which obesity and diabetes are an all too often occurrence. With this knowledge in hand, we as individuals should do more to prevent stress in our lives if we want to decrease our chances of weight gain, and risk of obesity and heart disease. But at least we have an excuse for the dreaded “first year spread”, just blame it on the stress…

  56. Jessica-Lee Bown (14021138) April 30, 2014 at 10:42 am #

    I can relate to the results found in the experiment done in this article – it happens to me on a regular basis. I am a university student so I am constantly put under stress and I have noticed how when I am stressed I eat so much more food – and not just healthy food either. I crave fatty food, like chocolates and sweets, and it definitely adds on a few extra kilograms. However, when I am not stressed I do not feel that craving as bad, so naturally I would not pick up weight. Furthermore, even if I do eat fatty foods when I am not stressed, I do not feel as though it takes the same toll on my body as it does when I am really stressed.

    There was another study done by Mary F. Dallman et al. (called “Chronic stress and obesity: A new view of ‘comfort food’”) that found a link between chronic stress and obesity. A conclusion was also that stress can cause people to eat fatty foods as a means of comfort and that this can be associated with weight gain and is bad for long-term health. This just shows how serious chronic stress can be, so hopefully they will come up with adequate treatments soon!

  57. 14120829 April 30, 2014 at 10:12 am #

    Stress being one of the most common problems in our societies today, this article could be the explanation as to why a lot of people suffer from diabetes, obesity and other chronic illnesses. However, different people respond to stress differently depending on how each individuals body reacts to it. In some people stress causes the NPY markers to operate similar to junk food which accumulates abdominal fat causing weight gain. Whilst stress causes many others to become anxious, lose appetite, miss meals, hence resulting in losing weight.

  58. Josh April 30, 2014 at 9:50 am #

    When I think of stress, I think of rest. The Bible talks about setting aside a day for rest. I remember hearing somewhere about people who do not take a day off for rest, tend to perform at a lower in what they do verses someone who does have a day of rest. Often times, the American culture encourages more is better, when in reality, less may be the better route. Of course, there are some people whop have to work several jobs. This can be tough, and I understand that. If you do have a lot of things going on in your life, try to take them lightly. Stress takes away joy. Enjoy life to the fullest. You cannot take your earthly life with you when you die.

  59. u14008794 April 30, 2014 at 9:35 am #

    This is totally true and is a clear explanation to why the whole weight gain issue occurs. Stress is related to a channel of thinking and how the mind is able to deal with different experiences and situations. Unhealthy food is initially not good for the human body and having chronic stress heightens the damage it does cause to the body. The research conducted makes perfect sense as whole system of the body interlinks. This should be a good indicator be people struggling with weight to deal with their stress condition first to be able to address the second problem of weight gain.

  60. 14067472 April 30, 2014 at 9:23 am #

    Wow! It now makes perfect sense to me why stress eating makes a person put on large amounts of weight rapidly. If chronic stress has such a huge effect on weight gain, it could mean that other symptoms or feelings such a s depression, happiness and sadness can also be the cause of weight gain or even weight loss experienced by a person. It could also mean that chronic stress can affect health conditions other than obesity that can also endanger a person’s life. is there currently research being conducted to determine how chronic stress can be reduced and what other illnesses and health conditions chronic stress can affect?

  61. u14016070 April 30, 2014 at 8:48 am #

    I found it real interesting that stress triggers the NPY bio-markers that work the same as junk food which create large abdominal fat cells, that decrease or influence your metabolic system. This explains why people gain weight when they are under stress. I was just wondering why some people lose weight while they under stress? Is it because they are just eating less food or is it due to different chemical reactions in their body?

  62. u14302056 April 30, 2014 at 8:07 am #

    When under stress, your body increases the amount of cortisol, a hormone secreted from the adrenal glands, in order to supply an immediate energy source to the body. This hormone can become harmful to the body if there is an excess amount in the body caused by chronic stress. The excess amount of cortisol released by those suffering from stress could explain why stress causes weight gain as cortisol affects the release of insulin into the body as well as the bodies ability to convert sugars into energy, thus being stored as fat. Those with chronic stress were said to have higher levels of peripheral Neuropeptide Y. The reason for abdominal fat increasing as a result of chronic stress could be caused by NPY as it has a direct affect in the increase of abdominal fat.

    Chronic stress is life threatening and needs to be controlled. Maintain a healthy diet by staying away from processed goods that are produced for quantity rather then quality as these goods are full of chemicals that put a certain amount of stress on your body as they cannot be broken down and are harmful to your well being. Exercise is good as it uses up the stored energy caused by stress and in the process reduces stress with the secretion of certain hormones like endorphins.

  63. Keleabetswe Tabane 14359805 April 30, 2014 at 7:33 am #

    This is an astonishing discovering as i have always wondered why I kept on gaining weight even though I ate a moderate amount of food and exercised. Now i am aware of one of the contributing factors of me gaining weight. I truly hope that more and more researches would be conducted to find a way to reduce chronic stress.

  64. Nonhle Xulu 14186986 April 30, 2014 at 6:53 am #

    When I was younger I was a really fat kid and constantly teased about it and when I hit puberty and left the province and school I was in I lost the fat drastically. Last year i started picking up on the weight again I tried exercise and decreasing the junk food and nothing happened and last year I had quite the traumatic year. This year I’m gaining again and I assumed that it was due to being pressured to change from a high school mentality to a varsity one and maintain my grades, therefore i thought I could be one of those people who gain when stressed and this article has proved my theory correct. But it saddens me that there aren’t any guidelines to treating chronic stress as it is the root cause for this issue. And textbook answers as to how to deal with stress as learnt in Life Orientation don’t always help. If no solutions are found there’s a domino effect because people result to diet pills, crazy diets -such as the tapeworm diet- or -even worse- eating disorders just to lose the fat. The effects of these various measures can even often result in death. It sounds a bit drastic for just stress, but these are issues we’re faced with daily so what can we do about them?

  65. 13162625 April 30, 2014 at 5:46 am #

    Wow! this is amazing! i had recently asked myself how come i eat the same amount of food everyday but when schools are open i don’t gain weight and when on holiday i put on a lot of weight. for a while i thought the calories were used up by brain activity then i remembered that such didn’t happen during my high school days. that’s when i jokingly came to the conclusion that the stress eats my food seeing that there is no other possible reason. I am amazed that this has been scientifically proven

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