Is Chronic Stress Making You Fat? New Science Sounds Alarms – Reader’s Digest

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In the first part of this series on disability, we got under the hood to look at the underlying mechanisms of both obesity and diabetes. We’ve now moved on to discussing the environmental and lifestyle risk factors that drive these conditions. In the last article we learned about the top 3 dietary causes of disability. In this article, we’re going to see how stress can independently cause both obesity and diabetes. A huge amount of research over the past two decades shows that stress causes both obesity and diabetes in a variety of ways.

Key Takeaways:

  • Cortisol, which is produced in our adrenal glands, is the primary stress hormone that sounds alarms in the parts of our brain that control fear, motivation, and mood.
  • Bad news for people with a high-stress lifestyle: Sky-high levels of cortisol were linked not only with higher BMIs, but also with larger total waist circumference.
  • Though the findings strongly suggest that people with chronic stress are at a higher risk of becoming and staying obese, Dr. Jackson cautions that since it was not a longitudinal study, more research is needed to determine cause and effect.

“As you might expect, cortisol levels were lowest in the hair samples of slimmer participants and highest in those who were obese.”