The primary causes of obesity, as highlighted by the World Health Organization (WHO), are diet high in fat, salt and sugar, and lack of physical activity. Of course, there are other factors that could also make people become overweight or obese. For instance, stress can make a person fat, too.
In the present fast pace environment, people are constantly under tremendous stress, which could come from their boss, co-workers, peers or even family members. Stress can contribute to weight gain in a number of ways. One of them is do with cortisol, a stress hormone. When human bodies are under stress, the fight or flight response is triggered leading to release of various hormones.
With an intention to explore how stress and obesity might be linked and find out the cause and consequence relationship between stress response and obesity, researchers from University of Stavanger, Norway reviewed a number of previous studies showing weight gain and cortisol levels were noticeably higher in people who became fatter because of stress.
They finally established a hypothesis: “stress and obesity could reinforce each other through positive feedback”. In other words, stress can make one fat and being obese can create stress as well. Their findings were published on March 28, 2011 in ‘Medical Hypotheses’.
According to their arguments, getting fatter could potentially trigger the stress response that would encourage additional weight gain. When a person gains weight, the body also filled with stress, which would probably make this person gain additional weight.
Meanwhile, they also suggested out that dieting could also stimulate cortisol production that might trigger the stress response and thereby prevent the weight loss. If their hypothesis were correct, people will have to break the stress cycle if they want to prevent weight gain.
Perhaps, the new hypothesis could help people understand and cope with obesity, which can likely cause them to develop chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease and stroke.