Women are at the receiving end of the spectrum when we talk about issues like weight gain, psychological stress and health issues. A new study proves a link between psychological stress and weight gain, after finding that bitter life experiences increase the chances of obesity risk in women.
Researches say that women who experienced traumatic or negative experiences in life over a period of 5 or more years are more likely to become obese in comparison to other women.
Obesity & Women
India is one of the top five nations leading in obesity rates and more than 23% women in urban India are obese/overweight, which is greater than the rates prevalent among men. Obesity is one of the largest public health burdens that paves way for diseases such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain cancer types.
While earlier studies proved the effect of psychological stress on eating behavior, undereating or overeating, little was researched on the effect of bad life experiences on obesity rates. Stress affects neurohormonal activity by increasing cortisol production, which is related to weight gain.
Results of the Study
Around 22,000 middle-aged and older women participated in the study and self-reported traumatic events such as death of a child, life-consuming illness or physical assault. The research also took into account negative life events such as unemployment for a time period of 3 months or more or being burglarized over a period of 5 years and tried to find if these events were associated with body mass index (BMI).
The study revealed that women who had experienced even one traumatic event in their lifetime were 11% more likelier to be obese than other women. Also, women who experienced at least four negative life events in the past five years were 36% at a higher risk of becoming obese. More the number of traumatic experiences, greater is the likeliness of becoming obese.
The fascinating yet shocking fact is that, these associations are strongest among women who are engaged in vigorous physical activity, the reason for which is still unknown.
As stress is a factor that affects body weight, it should be taken into consideration before starting on weight management programs. It is better to assess and treat psychological stress when approaching weight management issues. In such cases, it is advisable to get professional help by means of a registered dietitian nutritionist who specializes in weight reduction/obesity. Visit the website www.firsteatright.com to get in touch with reputed RDNs to help manage weight issues.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.