A global increase in stress levels may well be the cause of obesity. Researchers from the University of Texas have done studies to prove that comfort eating is linked to a hormone which increases the need for fatty food.
It is thought that approximately two-fifths of people overeat when placed under pressure. Historically, bingeing on fatty or sugary foods has been linked to periods when an individual may feel stressed or anxious.
During the study, mice were placed in an environment where they had free access to food. They were exposed to a variety of stressful situations to allow the researchers to observe their reactions to stress.
During this time, notes were made of their ghrelin levels. It was concluded that the increased amount of ghrelin which had been activated by stress, increased the mouse’s appetite.
Based on these results, it has been determined that this may well be the reason why so many people turn to high calorie comfort foods when they feel stressed or anxious. Although the study has made a contribution to explaining the current obesity levels among humans, not much is known regarding the nervous system circuits which control it. Further studies will have to be undertaken to provide ways to curb this behaviour which is so detrimental to human health.
Binge eating has been linked to obesity. In the UK, 50% of adults are classified as overweight, with approximately one in five being classified as obese.