How to live longer: A stressful life could increase the likelihood of obesity


Having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 and above is dangerous. It increases the likelihood of developing heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, cancer and sleep apnea. Could minimizing stress reduce your waistline?

Research cited by Medical News Today confirmed that constantly stressed individuals weighed more.

The study was led by Dr Sarah Jackson of the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London (UCL).

Stress levels were measured by the amount of cortisol (the stress hormone) found in the hair samples.

The scientists analyzed cortisol data from 2,427 adults – aged 54 and over – who were part of the UK Longitudinal Study on Aging.

Dr. Jackson said the hair samples were “easily obtainable” and a “suitable” method for “evaluating chronically high levels of cortisol concentrations.”

Obtaining cortisol stress hormone measurements in other ways can be affected by everyday situations.

Examples of this include blood, urine, or saliva samples, so Dr. Jackson considered hair sampling to be the best course of action for her study.

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Dr Jackson commented on the findings: “These findings provide consistent evidence that chronic stress is associated with higher levels of obesity.

“People who had higher hair cortisol levels also tended to have larger waist measurements.

“Carrying excess fat around the abdomen is a risk factor for heart disease, diabetes and premature death.”

Tips for reducing stress

The Mental Health Foundation said stress can result from “an increase in workload, a transition period, discussion or financial worries.”

This can have a cumulative effect, “with each stressor piling up on top of each other.”

This can lead to a stress response in the body, which can manifest itself in various ways, such as:

  • Feelings of constant worry or anxiety
  • Feelings of being overwhelmed
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Mood swings or changes in your mood
  • Irritability or short temper
  • Difficulty relaxing
  • Depression
  • Low self-esteem
  • Eat more or less than usual
  • Changes in your sleep habits
  • Using alcohol, tobacco, or illegal drugs to relax
  • Aches and pains, especially muscle tension
  • Diarrhea and constipation
  • Feeling sick or dizzy
  • Loss of sexual desire

Other warning signs can include: tight muscles, excessive fatigue, headache or migraine.

The first step is to try to identify the causes and classify them into one of three categories:

  1. Those with a practical solution
  2. Those that will improve over time
  3. The ones you can’t do anything about

Any concern in the second or third category must be “let go” … release it.

For any problem with a practical solution, it’s time to put your creative thinking cap on.

Could you take too much? Would you be able to delegate to others? Can things be done more smoothly?

“To act upon the answers to these questions, you may need to prioritize the things you are trying to achieve and rearrange your life,” the charity said.

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