Posted - January 27, 2010

Add Stress and Add Pounds

Your stress could be the reason for weight gain, a recent study has discovered. Men and women who have a high body mass index (BMI) have a tendency to gain weight when they experience stress from work-related demands, money problems, depression, or anxiety, reported Jason P. Block, MD, MPH, and colleagues in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

The study showed that different types of stress can cause weight gain in men and women. For women, strains with family or friends were associated with weight gain, while men tended to gain weight when they experienced stress in the workplace.

A cross-section of 1,355 adults aged 25 to 74 in the Midlife In the United States study (MIDUS), followed from 1995 to 2004, was studied in-depth. Participants “with higher body mass indexes at baseline who reported greater psychosocial stress gained more weight, whereas this pattern was not evident for those with lower baseline body mass indexes.”

The stress hormone cortisol, which is associated with abdominal obesity, has been linked to this type of stress-related weight gain. In addition, a complex interplay of hormones such as glucocorticoids and ghrelin, which are appetite stimulants, and corticotrophin-releasing hormone and leptin, which act as appetite suppressants, could also be linked to obesity.

The study explained that these hormones are closely related to the physiologic pathways between stress and weight gain and emphasized the importance of reducing stress on adults. “Our findings show that stress should be recognized as a threat to the well-being of American adults, especially those who are already overweight,” Block said.