For years the scientific community has told the public that stress and obesity were related. However, until recently there was little evidence outside of a study or two to support this claim. Recent research shows that stress actually sets off a biochemical process that reinforces bad habits that lead to weight gain. Several chemicals play a role in this process. These chemicals include serotonin, cortisol, and neuropeptide Y.

Serotonin is critical in feeling good and maintaining healthy moods, however stress can off set this balance in the body. Foods like carbohydrates elevate the serotonin levels and make individuals feel better. As we know, simple carbs lead to weight gain and turn into sugar in the body. Therefore, stress changes the way we eat and sets off a downward spiral towards obesity. Cortisol is a hormone released by the body during high levels of sustained stress. It is linked to weight gain and obesity as it know to increase appetite and cravings for sugary foods. Finally, neuropeptide Y is released during high levels of stress and sparks fat accumulation. A healthy diet eliminates this issue as very little fat or sugar is consumed. It’s easy to see how stress can cause dramatic changes in the body, however a healthy diet can counteract this damage. Understanding how the body processes hormones and stress gives us a greater understanding of how to change our diet and our lifestyle to avoid obesity.

Obesity is extremely complex. It is affected by our diet, genetics, and daily life. However, put simply weight gain is caused by consuming more calories than you burn. Environment and social norms surrounding eating habits also play a pivotal role in your likelihood for developing obesity in life. Let’s take a closer look at the causes of obesity and how they affect your health.


Working longer hours and eating more meals in restaurants leads to serious diet problems. Restaurants offer large portions of calorie dense foods. Packaged snacks and processed foods are also readily available for Americans to consume, which are high in calories and sugars. Sedentary lifestyles contribute to obesity as well. Americans are no longer working physically intensive jobs as they did in the past, and combining this inactivity with high-calorie diets lends itself to obesity.


Stress causes the release of hormones, which contribute to weight gain. Life is much more stressful than it once was, and adding to this the endless array of processed food choices, it’s easy to see why obesity is so widespread.


There is a genetic predisposition for obesity with some individuals. An energy imbalance sparks this predisposition, and environmental factors also contribute to it. Identifying the causes of obesity is important in reversing the conditions for those who are suffering. A healthy diet and a reduction in stress are the two most important factors in diverting obesity altogether.

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