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Stress, Fast Food and Obesity: Belly Fat and Obesity Caused By Stress and Fast Food, Study Shows

Updated on January 25, 2010

Stress, fast food and obesity can be a lethal combination for millions of Americans.

Stress-induced cortisol and fast food can cause increased belly fat -- the worst kind of fat for your health. It can lead to development of obesity. Belly fat and obesity are associated with many health risks.

By understanding the powerful interactions between stress-induced cortisol, increased belly fat and obesity, you can make some changes in your lifestyle to avoid stress-related belly fat and obesity; you can also lose stubborn belly fat as well as lose weight and manage your weight more effectively. Read on...

Obesity research studies have shown that stress and obesity are linked. But, what causes belly fat was poorly understood. One of the most dangerous aspects of stress-related obesity is increased belly fat; it is associated with metabolic syndrome. The risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and other diseases increases with increased belly fat and obesity.

Studies done by scientists from Georgetown University showed what causes the formation of belly fat. Chronic stress along with a high-fat, high sugar diet -- the equivalent of a fast food or junk-food diet -- causes a build up of belly fat.

Using mice as experimental models or subjects, they were able to show that stress and high-sugar, high fat diet caused obesity and belly fat buildup. Stressed and non-stressed mice were fed normal diet and high-sugar, high fat diet. Non-stressed mice fed normal diet did not become obese. Stressed mice fed high-sugar, high fat diet gained twice as much fat as non-stressed mice on the same diet.

Stress and high-sugar, high fat diet -- equivalent to most American fast food or junk food -- resulted in abdominal obesity as well as a metabolic syndrome-like condition. Stress-induced and "junk food" diet-induced belly fat formation was mediated by neuropeptide Y (NPY).

NPY is released from sympathetic nerves during stressful situations. In turn, the release of NPY causes increase production of NPY and its receptors in abdominal fat. This process is dependent on stress-induced cortisol.

They showed that when this neuro-chemical signaling process was stimulated, new belly fat deposits were created. They also showed that blocking the signals not only prevented belly fat accumulation, but also showed reduction of belly fat deposits as well as reduction of adverse metabolic changes.

When NPY effect was blocked by blocking the NPY receptor or by removal of the gene from the belly fat cells, they were able to show that stressed mice fed high-sugar, high fat diet did not become obese.

These studies, which showed NPY as the cause of belly fat formation, were published in July 2007 -- recent studies support their findings. A new study shows that social stress is linked to harmful belly fat deposits and heart disease.

These findings could have important implications for the way the United States and other western countries are dealing with the rapidly rising number of obese individuals. Effective stress management appears to be crucial in weight management and prevention of obesity-related diseases.

By understanding the powerful interactions between stress-induced cortisol and increased belly fat as well as fast food and obesity, you can make some changes in your lifestyle to avoid stress-related belly fat and obesity; you can also lose stubborn belly fat as well as lose weight and manage your weight more effectively. Effective weight loss and weight management can help you avoid belly fat-associated health risks and obesity-related diseases.

Stress, Fast Food and Obesity: Stress and Fast Food Lead to Increased Belly Fat and Obesity For Millions of Americans

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    • allie8020 profile imageAUTHOR

      Allie Mendoza 

      8 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area, California

      Hi Cheeky Girl,

      Thanks for your comments. We all get stressed out and exercise is a powerful way to lower stress. The last few years I've been exercising more mindfully, i.e., without music or distractions. I was surprised that it increased my enjoyment of exercise instead of decreasing it. Yes, we should all love our gym... and anywhere else we can exercise.

      :) Allie

    • Cheeky Girl profile image

      Cassandra Mantis 

      8 years ago from UK and Nerujenia

      Wow, I am glad I am not obese. I do stress in my job some times, but I just found another few reasons to love my Gym! LOL! Great Hub, Allie!

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