September 29th, 2003


Stress may make you fat

Grasping Why We Reach for a Taste of Calm

By Rob Stein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 29, 2003; Page A16

When the going gets tough, the tough (and not-so-tough) often get hungry. Why that happens has been a mystery.

Although researchers have had clues that there might be some scientific basis for the notion of "comfort food," the precise link between stress and eating has been fuzzy.

Now, scientists have developed a model for a biological link between stress and the drive to eat: Food with lots of sugar, fat and calories appears literally to calm down the body's response to chronic stress.

In addition, research indicates that stress hormones encourage formation of fat cells, particularly the kind that are the most dangerous to health. That may be at least one reason why obesity rates are skyrocketing in the United States and many other modern societies.

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