The Latest Research Says Yes.

As per the results of a new study by University College London researchers, people who are chronically stressed are more likely to gain weight than people who experience low or moderate amounts of stress. As if that weren’t bad enough, chronically stressed people also have a more difficult time losing the excess weight they gain.

I don’t know about you, but my first response to this uncool news is to dart to the nearest Zen center for some yoga classes and essential oils (Ok actually my first response was, “Great. Now I have something else to stress about.”)

According to the study’s lead author, Sarah Jackson, our bodies are designed to release the hormone cortisol when we’re under stress. “When people are facing a stressful situation, a chain reaction is set off in the body that results in the release of cortisol…” she said. “Cortisol is involved in a broad range of biological processes, including metabolism, body composition and the accumulation of body fat.”

For the study, Jackson and her research team analyzed the amount of cortisol present in the hair follicles of men and women aged 54 and older. The participants underwent hair follicle testing every two years until the study was concluded. Previous research focused on levels of cortisol in the blood, urine or saliva to determine a link to obesity, but those measures could be influenced by outside factors like time of day or medications. Jackson says her study captured cortisol levels in the body as they pertain to long-term stress.

The results of the study showed that people with more cortisol in their hair, i.e. those who were subjected to chronic levels of stress, are more likely to have excess fat around their midsection than their non-stressed counterparts.

While the study isn’t conclusive, many members of the scientific and medical communities feel it provides compelling evidence that stress and obesity are directly linked. As for me, I find it provides compelling evidence that stress can throw your hormone levels out of whack, making it difficult to maintain a positive outlook or make healthy food choices.

If you feel you may be suffering from high levels of stress-induced cortisol, talk to a trusted healthcare professional about getting your levels tested. You may also benefit from taking herbal supplements geared toward calming your nerves and reducing the amount of cortisol in your system. A favorite of mine is MD LIFE™ Cortisol Manager and Stress Hormone Stabilizer which can be purchased from Amazon. However, be sure to talk with your doctor first before taking any supplements.