Obesity and Stress have been found to be interlinked and much has been written about them. According to a 2019 study published in the Journal of Neuroendocrinology , Ghrelin , a hormone associated with feeding and energy balance was studied in detail and it was established that it targeted the hypothalamus , making it inclined to eating more. Research has it that chronic stress can lead to a change in dietary pattern leading to over-eating which then results to a weight gain. It is known that short-term stress can lead to a weight loss but the persistent stress can lead to a weight gain.
Transient stress triggers the brain to produce an appetite-constraining hormone known as Cortico-trophin releasing hormone , which along with the adrenal triggering leads to a suppression of appetite for the time being. On the contrary , a lingering stress will cause a release of Cortisol hormone , which leads to an increase in hunger.
A striking result was obtained by the researchers at the University College of London , where they studied the relationship between the levels of cortisol present in the hair and BMI and waist circumference for a period of 4 years. There was a noticeable increase in the Cortisol levels over this period.
It was established by lead researcher Sarah Jackson and her team that higher levels of cortisol in the hair had a linkage with greater waist circumferences and higher BMIs. Individuals with BMI 30 or higher , qualified as obese , had a genuinely higher level of Cortisol in their hair. A retrospective study over this period also showed a compelling connection between Cortisol levels in the hair and a sustained obesity.
A 2007 study by British researchers had proved a direct link between high levels of Cortisol as triggered by Stress and the proclivity to eat more snacks in comparison to people with low Cortisol-levels. Studies performed over animals too buttress this claim of Stress leading to over-eating issues.
Countering the Stress
While understanding Obesity and Stress, the rule of thumb associated with the situation of high stress levels and the subsequent tendency to over-eat , is to cut down the diet high in fats & sugar in conjunction with moderate exercising , guided meditations and professional counselling or family support can prove decisive in not only lowering the stress but also controlling the weight.