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Stress Is Linked With Weight Gain, Scientists Reveal

By Sakhi Pandey

Stress is a very common term thrown around casually whenever one is feeling pressurized or burdened because of various factors known as stressors like overloading work, functions, exams etc.

However, what exactly is stress?

Stress is nothing but a physical, bodily response to stressors around us. When under a lot of pressure or feeling stressed, our body thinks that we are going under attack and therefore secretes a lot of hormones to deal with the stress or to fight back. If this mental state is prolonged, it could lead to some awful effects on health and in some cases - death, as explained by the Hans Selye's GAS Model of Stress.

One of the adverse effects of stress on health is weight gain. Although, considering stress can lead to worse diseases like diabetes, weight gain doesn't seem to be such a bad effect of stress. However, gaining weight due to stress is not something one should take lightly. Weight gain itself can lead to heart problems, cancer, diabetes, strokes and even depression at times.

Stress is one of the main reasons weight is gained by a lot of people around the world, as proven by science and scientists working on the adverse effects of stress.

When one is under a lot of stress, they might start losing appetite as a result, however, when you start experiencing chronic stress, i.e., when stressors are present in the environment over a long period of time, generally for over a few months, a person is said to be experiencing chronic stress. With chronic stress comes overeating, as stress actually makes one more hungry than usual due to all the hormonal imbalances in the body.

When experiencing chronic stress, our body goes into a mode of self preservation or survival mode. Therefore, in this survival mode, the body begins to treat itself by making one extremely hungry, leading to overeating simply because the body believes it has burned all the calories to fight off the stress even thought it hasn't. So, one feels the need to make up for the apparent calories lost while fighting off stress.

So Then Why Go In For "Comfort Foods" And Not Something Healthy?

While going through a stressful episode, our body secretes a hormone known as cortisol, also known as "the stress hormone." Secretion of this hormone into the body increases the level of insulin in the body. An increase in insulin leads to a decrease in the blood sugar level. Therefore, this fall in blood sugar level makes one crave for food that is sugary and sweet as well as fatty foods in general. That is why we choose having an ice cream or cake over a full course healthy meal or a bowl of vegetables or salad. It's not just because it tastes better but also because your body practically demands it. Hence, the name "comfort foods" is given to all the sugary, fatty foods.

Therefore, more the stress, more we eat unhealthy and more we gain weight, especially belly fat.

Why Is It Important To Keep Our Weight In Check?

Although the weight gain is caused due to stress, the factors inculcate overeating and eating junk food, which is how we gain weight generally and therefore it is extremely unhealthy.

• First things first, weight gain affects more than how our body looks on the outside. It is responsible for causing a number of health issues like heart problem and diabetes and thus obesity needs to be kept in check and one of the ways to do that is to take less stress or avoid overeating and exercising more often and eating foods like fruits, etc.

• Second, it battles with the shape of your body. A lot of people feel more confident when they look their best and weight gain as well as loss due to stress disrupts that state of being and therefore becomes a problem.

Read more about: weight gain stress obesity
Story first published: Thursday, April 19, 2018, 16:09 [IST]
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