The Washington Times - October 3, 2008, 03:54PM

The mounting stress in today’s society leads to a vicious descending spiral of ever-increasing weight gain. But the good news is that the spiral is not inevitable and can be reversed and transcended.

“In times of economic hardship and stress, people gain weight,” said Dr. Sasson Moulavi, a bariatric physician in Port St. Lucie, Fla. This is because:


• When the economy deteriorates and the gremlin of stress seizes people, they tend to buy less expensive, lower-quality food, which is calorically rich and nutritionally poor.

• Stress causes the human body to tense up as it releases hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine, which encourage fat formation. In primitive man, these “fight or flight” chemicals were of great service in times of occasional threat, when the fat was quickly utilized. But under today’s societal stress, modern man feels constantly “threatened,” and so, constantly builds fat. “In primitive man, after a surge of fight or flight hormones, he relaxed and his body went back to normal, but today, continuous stress with no relief is common,” said Moulavi.

• People subjected to stress, the doctor said, tend to sleep less, which increases cortisol secretion.

• Exercise could improve this whole scenario. However, “stress can make you tired and cause sore muscles,” said Lani Kee, manager of the Center for Health and Healing at Martin Memorial Health Systems in Stuart, Fla. “When you hurt and have no energy, you’re less likely to exercise.”

De-stressing can be accomplished by setting time aside for walking, bathing, listening to music and the like, writing down one’s core values and focusing on them in daily life, and consciously avoiding negative people and situations that produce stress.

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