Constant stress has been linked to various physical and mental heath problems including high blood pressure, heart disease and insomnia. According to new research, days filled with stress may also increase your risk of becoming overweight.
The research, led by Sarah Jackson, a research associate at the Institute of Epidemiology and Health at University College London, was published Thursday in the journal Obesity.
For the study, researchers from the university followed over 2,500 men and women aged 54 and older for about four years.
The researchers took a sample of hair from each participant to measure the levels of cortisol, a hormone which is released into the bloodstream in times of stress. If a person is under constant stress, the level of cortisol will be much higher.
Previous research measured the levels of cortisol in blood or saliva, but these levels can also be affected by other factors, making them unreliable for research.
The researchers also collected data on participants' weight and compared cortisol levels in the sample to body weight. The results showed that participants with higher cortisol levels tended to have larger waist circumferences.
The research concluded that these results provide consistent evidence that long-term stress is associated with higher levels of obesity.
Based on the conclusion, Jackson suggested that people should look for better ways to manage stress.