People who suffer constant stress may also be more prone to gaining extra kilos eventually over time, says a study.
The research, published in the journal Obesity, are based on examining the hair samples for determining the levels of cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone which modulates the body’s response to stress. The study revealed that exposure to higher levels of cortisol for several months is associated with being overweight.
“People who showed higher hair cortisol levels also shown larger waist measurements, which is vital because having excess fat around the abdomen causes heart disorders, diabetes and premature death,” said lead researcher Sarah Jackson from the University College London. “These findings provide significant evidence that chronic stress is linked with higher levels of cholesterol,” Jackson said. People with chronic stress tends to overeat and ‘comfort eating’ foods high in fat, sugar and calories during stress and cortisol plays an important role in food metabolism and fat storage.
Past studies considering the link between cortisol and obesity mainly considered the levels of this hormone in blood, saliva or urine which may vary according to the time of the day and other factors. These studies did not capture the cortisol levels.
The recent research involved 2,527 men and women aged 54 and elderly people taking part in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, which studied the data for a period of four years. In the research, the scientists have considered a lock of hair two centimeters long from each of the participant which was cut as close possible to an individual’s scalp. This revealed about two months hair growth with respective levels of cortisol that were accumulated. The researchers noticed that people who had higher levels of cortisol present in their hair have larger waist circumference along with higher weight and higher body mass index (BMI).