A fascinating research study recently performed at Yale University is helping us shed light on the important relationship between stress and fat. In the September/October 2000 edition of the Journal of Psychosomatic Medicine, researcher Elissa Epel, Ph.D and associates reported a distinctive relationship between what "central fat" and reaction to stress. Central fat, which is located mainly around our mid-sections, is considered especially unhealthy as it appears to be commonly associated with heart disease and diabetes. Particularly sensitive to cortisol, a circulating hormone typically released as part of the biological stress response, central fat plainly increases with perceived distress. First it's important to recognize that anything serving to disrupt or challenge our inner sense of balance is recognized by the body as stressful. Keeping this in mind, it's clear that stress varies significantly from person to person.With this in mind, assume for a moment your stress response is already set in motion as you sit down to dinner. Chemical messengers from certain areas of the brain are sending stress signals to your adrenal glands to release cortisol a well-known stress hormone. As a result, cortisol actually triggers a fat build-up particularly around your waist. Are you loosening your belt yet?