Hit enter to search or ESC to close

All you need to know about stress-related obesity

Blog 2

All you need to know about stress-related obesity

Dr. sonali patange

Stress is the new buzzword in patient-doctor communication. There is enough information to link stress and elevated risk of obesity.   Social stress leads to the craving for high fat ‘comfort food’, alters the dietary preference and influences the regional distribution of the fat tissue. It also has a negative effect on our metabolic health. 

Here are few coping strategies to deal with the effect stress and thereby reduce the tendency towards obesity.

Stress is a natural reaction that occurs when new or challenging situations come your way. There are various changes that occur due to stress, like:

Lifestyle changes relating to stress and obesity

Stress can lead to behaviours such as physical inactivity, and consumption of high fat and sweet food. Resorting to emotional overeating, overconsumption of high-fat, high-sugar food and reducing the intake of fruits and vegetables has been commonly noted.

Biological changes relating to stress and obesity

Your body responds to stress by increasing a specific hormone called cortisol. This tends to redistribute the fat around the abdominal region and increase your appetite. It is also the cause behind the inclination towards ‘energy-dense’ food. Unfortunately, it is easy to get caught in the vicious circle of increased cortisol levels, obesity, and stress.

Now that we know the association between stress and obesity, here are a few tips to help break the cycle.

1)  Destress and focus

  • Be mindful of your mind. Change your internal dialogue that undermines your weight management efforts and causes poor self-esteem. Also, note what stresses you out and take steps to avoid these stress triggers
  • Mediation and breathing help relax muscles and reduce tension and associated sympathetic nervous system. e.g., diaphragmatic breathing, progressive muscle relaxation and meditation are designed to reduce tension providing a distraction from stressful events.5,6

2) Be accountable

  • Keep a record of what you eat in the form of food diaries. Ensure you know the caloric intake.
  • Logging your physical activity will make you aware and encourage you towards getting in a little exercise in your daily routine.

3) Modulate your environment

  • Identify and modify habits that encourage you to exercise, such as laying out exercise clothes the night before to remind you to jog in the morning
  • Implement strategies to reduce overeating, such as eating only on the kitchen table or keeping only healthy snacks at home. 

4) Get the support

  • It has been proven that getting the support of your family or friends increases the chances of achieving and maintain weight loss. Keep them in the loop and ask them to help you destress and shed the weight.
  • Speak to an ‘obesity specialist’ to help identify your stress points and develop effective strategies to defeat them.
  • Start with yourself, expand to your environment and finally get the right kind of help. All these factors will help you reduce the odds of developing stress related obesity. If you need professional help to manage your stress-related obesity, reach out to obesity experts near you.



  1. Xenaki N, Bacopoulou F, Kokkinos A, Nicolaides NC, Chrousos GP, Darviri C. Impact of a stress management program on weight loss, mental health and lifestyle in adults with obesity: a randomized controlled trial. J Mol Biochem. 2018;7(2):78-84.
  2. van der Valk ES, Savas M, van Rossum EFC. Stress and Obesity: Are There More Susceptible Individuals?. Curr Obes Rep. 2018;7(2):193-203.
  3. org. Stress management. [Internet] [cited 2021 Feb 20]. Available from: https://www.helpguide.org/home-pages/stress-management.htm.
  4. Poston WS 2nd, Foreyt JP. Successful management of the obese patient. Am Fam Physician. 2000 Jun 15;61(12):3615-22.

*Scott KA, Melhorn SJ, Sakai RR. Effects of Chronic Social Stress on Obesity. Curr Obes Rep. 2012 Mar;1(1):16-25. doi: 10.1007/s13679-011-0006-3. PMID: 22943039; PMCID: PMC3428710.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.Required fields are marked *