Stress Makes You Fat

Stress Makes You FatWhile research hasn't yet determined all the factors in the stress-weight gain feedback loop, there appears to be evidence that stress leads to weight gain -- just as putting on a few pounds can lead to stress.

One recent study found that more than 56% of stressed-out adolescents were obese, versus 47% of the less-stressed. Previous research has identified a biological switch in mice that makes the body accumulate fat. Significantly, mice that were eating a healthy diet did not put on weight, even when stressed; those eating high-fat, high-sugar diets, however, were much more likely to gain weight when stressed. Another study showed that there's a biochemical trigger in the brain that prompts mice (and possibly humans, too) to seek out comfort foods when under the kind of long-term chronic stress we all experience; not only that, but the same hormone primes the body to pack on belly fat.

What you can do:
Eat well, of course -- and chill out. We can't control every form of stress -- remember the 40-hour work week? Turns out, that was good for us -- we can reduce our stress levels.

Read a book. Take the afternoon to cook a (healthy, low-fat) family meal. Work in the garden. Take a walk. Watch the birds. Exercise. Get outside and play with the kids. ... Do whatever you do to get perspective. It may help you slim down, too.

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