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The rise in obesity worldwide cannot be explained by bad diet and sedentary lifestyle alone. Stress is another factor contributing to the increase in human pounds. The World Health Organization has warned that the combination of high fat foods loaded with salt and sugar combined with a general reduction in exercise are the key causes of weight increase. Based on this, most doctors are trying to get their overweight patients to eat better and exercise.
But new research show this may not be enough. Brynjar Foss and sports scientist Dindre Dyrstad have focused their weight studies on stress and the contributions stress make to body size. Weight gain and increased cortisol levels are noticeably higher in people who became fatter because of stress.
“If you have high cortisol, you seem to put on weight more easily,” says Foss. He and Dyrstad have discovered that stress and obesity reinforce each other through positive feedback becoming a vicious circle. Getting fatter triggers a stress response which triggers a cortisol increase which triggers a weight gain. And the cycle repeats.
“When you go up in weight, your body also does under stress. That probably has a self-reinforcing effect – so you get even fatter,” Foss explained. Dieting can also inadvertently trigger a cortisol surge which in turn influences weight gain countering the intended weight loss.
“Should our hypothesis turn out to be correct, it would mean that you’ll have to break this stress pattern if you want to halt the weight increase,” concluded Foss.
Source: MedicalNewsToday, Medical Hypotheses
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