Feeling Stressed? You May Have a Higher Obesity Risk

Joelle Reizes

A person is officially declared "obese" when their body mass index (BMI) is 30 or higher. In the United States, approximately 35.5% of women and 32.2% of men are obese. Is it safe to say that stress may have been a contributing factor for obesity in some of those Americans? According to some researchers, the answer is yes.

Studies have linked stress to certain biochemical changes in the body that can trigger cravings. Over time, those cravings and the unhealthy diet choices that result can directly contribute to obesity. In addition, this connection tends to be self-reinforcing.

"[W]hen people are stressed, they may eat inappropriately," said Bonnie Taub-Dix, RD, a weight-loss expert and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, in an Everyday Health article. "If that causes them to gain weight, that can cause even more stress. You wind up causing exactly what you're trying to alleviate."

Specific hormones that are released when you're feeling stressed may cause you to crave particularly fatty or sugary foods — foods that directly contribute to weight gain. Those hormones include:

  • Serotonin
  • Cortisol
  • Neuropeptide Y

Experts suggest that the best way to stop stress from increasing your obesity risk is to keep yourself from becoming too hungry. Eat five or six small, healthy meals per day rather than three larger meals. If possible, stock your kitchen cabinets with only healthy, non-processed foods so that if stress triggers your cravings, you won't have temptation within reach. Another important tip is to deal with what's stressing you out. Doing so can help your health in more ways than one.

Health Dangers of Obesity

Obesity is dangerous because it's a major risk factor for a slew of life-threatening diseases including stroke, heart attack, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and more. If you are overweight or obese, you can take a proactive approach to your health by not only losing weight, but also taking advantage of health screenings that may detect dangerous conditions sooner so the right treatment can be sought.

Learn more about some of the preventive health screenings provided by Life Line Screening, especially if you exhibit some of the major risk factors. Take your health into your own hands today.

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