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How does stress affect weight loss and overall health?

Marjorie Nolan Cohn
Nutrition & Dietetics

Stress can make weight loss more difficult for many people for several reasons. First, stress causes many people to stress eat. Stress eating is a type of emotional eating, which contributes to excess calories and when done often enough causes weight gain. In addition, the types of food people crave when stressed are usually high fat and sugar. Second, stress causes the body to produce more of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that promotes body fat and makes it harder to lose weight, especially around the stomach. Third, when someone is stressed they generally sleep less. Less sleep, chronic fatigue causes the hormone ghrelin to rise. Ghrelin is the primary hunger hormone, and causes someone to feel hungry even when they don’t need to eat.

For other people, stress causes weight loss, but not in a good way. For those people that lose their appetite weight loss is unhealthy and can cause dehydration, weakness, and suppresses the immune system. Overall health is negatively affected.

 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.