Study links long-term stress to obesity

(ABC) — The office, the commute, the kids, the laundry. Just a few possible sources of stress in our day-to-day lives.

Now, new evidence that the constant pressure from these commitments may not only take a toll on our minds, it could affect our waistlines as well.

Researchers in Europe looked for evidence of cortisol, a stress hormone in an unusual place, hair strands from thousands of subjects.

The higher the levels of this hormone in the hair, the more likely someone was to be heavier — have a higher body mass index — and a larger waist circumference.

Their conclusion? The higher your long-term stress, the greater your chances you are obese. And we all know obesity is linked to medical risk.

It’s hard to tell whether stress has a direct effect on our weight — changing the way we process calories for instance, or if there is some other factor involved, like overeating when we are anxious.

Whatever the explanation, it could be one more reason for us to take a deep breath — an emotional time out.

Because when we’re losing it, we may actually be gaining it.

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