New research proves stress causes obesity

Chronic life stress makes a person crave for food containing high sugar and fat that leads to a change in eating style, according to Loheswary Arumugam.

According to Loheswary Arumugam, a consultant with KPJ Sentosa KL Specialist Hospital, the answer is yes.

Chronic life stress can contribute to obesity as it influences hormonal changes and can even alter the way we eat food.

"Stress makes a person crave for food containing high sugar and fat that leads to change in eating style. The fat accumulates around the abdomen, causing obesity," said Arumugam at a talk 'Stress and Obesity'.

We all know what it feels like when we're stressed and start craving the kick of a high-sugar, high-fat chocolate bar or frappucino. It's like a way to comfort ourselves when life is a bit too much to handle.

But stress and the ensuing change to our food intake patterns is having a disturbing toll on our health.

Malaysia is Southeast Asia's fattest country with our administrative capital Putrajaya recently confirmed to have the highest rate of overweight and obese people in the country.

Health Deputy Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya said that obesity was a huge problem in the country, with one out of three Malaysians aged 40 to 59 being in the overweight category.

We all know that obesity is dangerous, causing complications like diabetes, hypertension and heart problems.

But what are the solutions for life stress?

While we may not be able to do much to alter our circumstances, we can take steps to preventing obesity. Being mindful is the key.

Arumugam suggests that we may want to substitute certain foods and drinking more plain water. Using simple relaxation techniques like deep breathing would also be helpful.

She added that it is possible to manage stress, by adopting a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise and good eating and sleeping habits, as well as taking a daily break from our smart devices.