Could stress be the underlying factor around weight issues? An English study team sought out to find results on this, reviewing body weight and stress levels of over 2,500 males and females aged 54 and over. The research took a deeper look in to stress levels of a hormone referred to as cortisol within hair locks taken by those who participated.
As Sarah Jackson, lead author of the study relayed, the team found that cortisol levels within hair had a link to enhanced body mass index (BMI) and increased waist circumference. She went on to note that the study results offered evidence that chronic stress was linked to heightened obesity levels.
CNN reports that the hormone, cortisol, develops in the adrenal glands and transfers into the bloodstream during stress. It regulates blood pressure, suppresses inflammation, and ahelps keep supplies of blood sugar steady, as well as provides an energy boost when needed for emergencies. Jackson also noted that it offers the brain glucose to keep things active during a stressful time. She also goes on to state that it plays a key role when it comes to body composition, metabolism, and accumulating body fat.
Jackson stated that cortisol release develops via receptors that are thickly located within a person’s visceral fat tissue, ones around organs, which can lead some understanding on its link to weight loss and gain. It is tested by saliva, blood, or urine; but that offers insight for only a moment in time, as cortisol levels change throughout the day (depending on what a person is eating and the stressful situations they are in, or even illness).
As cortisol levels can be measured via hair, the study took a two-centimeter lock from each person who took part in the study; this amount of hair equals out to about a two-month growth period.
The study results revealed that chronic increased levels of cortisol exposure could play a key role when it comes to obesity, however the lead author did state that as the research was not longitudinal, the team could not determine what the cause and effect may be.
The team vows to keep on measuring and weighing participants of the study every four years to look in to ways that stress affects BMI as time goes by. More research is needed, however Jackson also suggested that individuals who deal with stress look for other methods, other than eating, to ease their feelings.