May, 2008 Archive

Stress leads to overeating

May 16th, 2008 by Christiane

Stress is bad for you -there is nothing new about that. Everyone knows that stress could cause heart problems, high blood pressure, stomach ulcers, and headaches. Scientists at the Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia now discovered that stress may also play a role in obesity.

In an experiment, the researchers compared the feeding pattern of socially dominant female rhesus macaques and socially subordinate. The subordinates were exposed to more stress because rhesus macaques maintain group stability through continual harassment and threat of aggression against lower ranking group members.

During the study, the rhesus macaques were given access to a low fat diet and a high fat diet. The researchers found that socially subordinate females consumed significantly more of both the low-fat diet and the high-fat diet throughout a 24-hour period, while socially dominant females ate significantly less than subordinate animals and restricted their feedings to daytime hours.

Result: Overeating subordinate females gained weight. In addition, the researchers found an increased level of the hormone cortisol in their blood, which could set them on the track to diabetes.

In further studies, the researchers will attempt to determine whether there is a link between brain areas associated with reward and satisfaction and appetite signals. Hypothetically, it could be that we are kind of “programmed” to eat more when we are under psychological stress, and then, for a “stress eater” it will be¬†much harder to stick to a diet.

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