Obesity and Stress: A Contingent Paralysis

Rupal Kumar, Moattar Raza Rizvi, Shubhra Saraswat


Two highly overriding problems that the society is facing today are stress and obesity. This narrative review article explains the vicious cycle of how stress leads to obesity and vice versa. Stress and obesity are interconnected to each other through different lines of cognition, behavior, and physiology. Stress can interfere with cognitive processes like self‑regulation. Stress can also influence behavior by indulging in overeating of foods that are high in calories, fat, and sugar. Stress also invigorates the generation of biochemical hormones and peptides, for example, leptin, ghrelin, and neuropeptide Y. This article also extracts the contribution of weight stigma and social stress in producing obesity in an obesogenic process. Recent Studies describe that psychological distress and elevated cortisol secretion promote abdominal fat, a feature of the metabolic syndrome, improvements in mindfulness, chronic stress, and cortisol awakening response (CAR) were associated with reductions in abdominal fat. Mindfulness intervention for stress suggests that mindfulness training improves eating patterns and the CAR, which may reduce abdominal fat over time. Obesity has a multifaceted etiology. In this review, several factors of stress are identified that affect the development of obesity. This review also provides valuable insight into the relationship between obesity and stress.


Abdominal fat; hypothalamo–hypophyseal system; ideal body weight; obesity; social stress

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