Family Health

Study Says Chronic Stress is Making You Gain Weight

Written by andy

Fight stress to fight obesity!

Stress is a part of our daily lives. We all have a bit of stress to deal with: from our jobs, our home lives, our finances, the people around us, traffic, and the list goes on.  A certain amount of stress is normal, but if it persists and becomes chronic stress, that’s when it begins to affect our health.

The side effects of chronic stress can be pretty severe—ranging from heart disease to a higher risk of diabetes to sleep problems to decreased energy levels. The longer the stress persists, the more your chance of health problems. And not just minor health problems; as multiple studies have proven, stress can lead to some pretty nasty disorders.

Here’s a new one to add to the list of stress-caused problems: obesity. According to a new study, people with higher stress levels also have a higher risk of weight gain.

Researchers from the UK measures cortisol (stress hormone) levels in the various participants in their study, as well as body mass index and waist circumference. Their data indicated that those with the highest levels of cortisol in their body (in their hair) had a higher chance of being obese. This was especially true in terms of excess fat around the belly, hips, and waist (midsection).

This study is just one more in the hundreds that have proven the dangers of chronic stress. If being stressed on a daily basis can lead to weight gain—which in turn can cause reduced organ function, a higher risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and a higher mortality rate—you can see why it’s so vital that you find ways to curb the stress in your life.

For some of us, that’s easier said than done!

READ MORE: Five Benefits of Stress

As mentioned above, life is filled with stress, so it can be tough to avoid the things that add to the burden of pressure in your day. Between your work and home life, you may be dealing with multiple stressors. What can you do?

  • Find a way to relax. Take up a hobby, start playing sports, or spend more time reading. Find the activities that help you to relax and engage in them on a daily basis. Even if you only spend 15 to 30 minutes per day, they’ll be an amazing stress-killer.
  • Find a way to cope. There will always be stress and pressure in life, but how you deal with them can make a huge difference in your overall health. Find ways to cope with the stress: work off the steam, take short breaks during the day, or change careers. Coping mechanisms can save your life!
  • Be mindful. Especially of your eating habits! Stress eating is one of the most common contributors to obesity. You tend to eat sweet and salty food that is high in flavor but low in nutritional value. If you realize that you’re a stress eater, be mindful of that when you feel the stress mounting and stay away from junk food.
  • Meditate. Meditation is an amazing stress-killer, and it will do your mind and body a lot of good. Even just 5 to 15 minutes of meditation per day can help to reduce stress and calm your racing thoughts. Plus, it will give you a clear head and bring everything into focus. It can save your sanity if the stress is getting to you.

Don’t let stress cause your health to suffer! Take steps to prevent chronic stress, and your risk of health problems will drastically decrease.


About the author


Some people get lucky and are born with fit, toned bodies. Andy Peloquin is not one of those people... Fitness has come hard for him, and he's had to work for it. His trials have led him to becoming a martial artist, an NFPT-certified fitness trainer, and a man passionate about exercise, diet and healthy living. He loves to exercise--he does so six days a week--and loves to share his passion for fitness and health with others.

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