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Could Psychosocial Stress Be a Root Cause of Obesity?

iStock-1086113114A 2019 study has unveiled an interesting connection between cumulative exposure to a wide range of psychosocial stressors and the risk of obesity.

Previous studies show that psychosocial stress may be a major risk factor for obesity, yet they have typically focused on single stressors in isolation.

This study explored the link between obesity and cumulative stress exposure from a range of stressors among a diverse sample of adults. Using secondary data from the Chicago Community Adult Health Study of 2,893, the researchers conducted analyses to track the associations between weight gain/obesity and eight psychosocial stressors individually and in combination. They chose to look at childhood adversity, acute life events, financial strain, and relationship stressors. All of them were associated with an increased risk of obesity. The only stressor that was independently associated with obesity was financial strain. Yet the highest stress exposures had significantly higher odds of obesity.

This study shows that reducing a population’s exposure to stressors could potentially reduce the burden of obesity.

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