Chronic stress heightens vulnerability to diet-related metabolic risk

April 29, 2014
Science Daily/University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)
Highly stressed people who eat a lot of high-fat, high-sugar food are more prone to health risks than low-stress people who eat the same amount of unhealthy food, new research finds for the first time. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of abnormalities -- increased blood pressure, a high blood sugar level, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels -- that occur together, increasing a person's risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

"We found that more frequent high fat, high sugar consumption significantly predicted a larger waistline, more truncal fat, higher oxidative damage, and more insulin resistance, but only among the group of women exposed to chronic stress," said Aschbacher. "The chronically stressed women didn't report eating more high sugar, high fat foods than the low stressed women; however, they did have higher levels of a stress-related biomarker, peripheral Neuropeptide Y (NPY)."

Based on what is known from animal studies, stress triggers greater peripheral NPY which, in combination with junk food, creates larger abdominal fat cells, and these cells may be more prone to metabolic dysregulation.

"The medical community is starting to appreciate how important chronic stress is in promoting and worsening early disease processes," said Aschbacher. "But there are no guidelines for 'treating' chronic stress. We need treatment studies to understand whether increasing stress resilience could reduce the metabolic syndrome, obesity or diabetes."
Science Daily/SOURCE :http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140429142117.htm

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