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Weight Loss

Stress Could Equal 11 Extra Pounds Per Year

One or more stressful events on any given day can actually slow the body’s metabolism and potentially lead to weight gain, a new study has found.

Researchers from the Ohio State University said that a single high-fat meal eaten the day after a stressor such as an argument or work-related pressure can make unhealthy weight gain easier.

In their study, the investigators asked participants about the previous day’s stressors before giving them a meal that had 930 calories and 60 grams of fat. Afterward, the researchers measured the subjects’ metabolic rate – the rate at which they burned fat and calories. They also measured levels of blood sugar, triglycerides, insulin and cortisol, the “stress hormone.”

Women who reported at least one stressor during the previous day burned an average of 104 fewer calories after the mean than women who weren’t stressed. The difference in weight gain, the researchers said, could result weight gain of almost 11 pounds in one year.

The women who reported stressors also had higher levels of insulin, which contributes to the storage of fat.

“This means that, over time, stressors could lead to weight gain,” said Jan Kiecolt-Glaser, professor of psychiatry and psychology at The Ohio State University and lead author of the study. “We know from other data that we’re more likely to eat the wrong foods when we’re stressed, and our data say that when we eat the wrong foods, weight gain becomes more likely because we are burning fewer calories.”

Earlier research has shown that people who have a stressful experience are at higher risk of gaining weight, and this newest study appears to show at least one reason for that connection.

The research is published in the journal Biological Psychiatry.

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