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   Oct 26

Why stress can make you overweight

Stress creates a hormone known as Adamts1 that generates fat cells

This creates an unsightly spare tyre and wraps fat around internal organs

Experts say if you’re already fat, your body’s more likely to make extra cells

It is well known that stress can lead to weight gain, usually after reaching for a chocolate bar or a glass of red wine following a long day.

But it is not just comfort eating to blame, as our bodies work against us to build up fat when we are under pressure.

Researchers have found stress triggers a hormone called Adamts1 which generates fat cells in the body.

This not only can create an unsightly spare tyre, but wraps fat around internal organs like the liver and pancreas, raising someone’s risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Stress triggers a hormone called Adamts1 which generates fat cells in the body, researchers from Stanford University found

The fresh evidence that a stressful job can make you fat comes from Stanford University School of Medicine.

Senior author Dr Brian Feldman, assistant professor of paediatrics, said it is the stress hormones which encourage fat cells to become mature.

He said: ‘We think it is a signal that there may be hard times ahead, a trigger to store as much available energy as you can.’

It was once believed that fat cells were just passive bags of calories, but recent research shows they send and receive important hormonal signals.

Stored within ‘fat depots’ in the body, they can influence the stem cells around them – cells which can turn into any type of cell within the body.

Scientists at Stanford now know the trigger for this, the Adamts1 hormone, which turns the stem cells into more fat cells ready to store fat.

It means, perhaps unfairly, that once you are already fat, your body is likely to create more fat cells as a knock-on effect. Stress, like being overweight, causes the same effect.

This not only can create an unsightly spare tyre, but wraps fat around internal organs like the liver and pancreas, raising someone’s risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease

Dr Feldman said: ‘You’re ingesting food, and some signal has to tell your body to make more fat.

‘We didn’t know what was gating or triggering that process in vivo (in the body). This new research goes a long way to fill in the in-between steps.’

The research follows a study last year showing that a job which becomes demanding can make you fat.

That was because workplace stress led to poor diet and comfort eating, with University College London finding people in this situation were 20 per cent more likely to become dangerously overweight.


Women need to be healthier before they conceive or risk their child developing a host of health problems, experts warned last week.

Babies are being put at risk of brain damage, stroke, heart attack or asthma in adulthood because their mother was obese, scientists say.

A series of studies suggest the problem begins in the womb – with the time before couples begin a family representing a ‘missed opportunity’ to tackle it.

Research has also shown youngsters are more likely to pile on the pounds if their parents were overweight before they were born.

Whether it is stress hormones in the body triggering Adamts1, or weight gain from stress-eating, the Stanford scientists found the result in fat cells is the same.

The new findings, published in the journal Science Signalling, showed that Adamts1 plays a big role in controlling whether fat stem cells differentiate.

People who gained weight while eating a high-fat diet had more new fat cells maturing in their visceral fat tissue, the fat located around internal organs.

While this does not always create visible belly fat, as subcutaneous fat under the skin does, it is dangerous for health.

The study’s results do not exclude the possibility that other, undiscovered hormones also influence fat cells’ decision to mature, but Adamts1 is believed to be the dominant signaller.

On anti-obesity treatment options, Dr Feldman said: ‘That won’t be a simple answer.

‘If you block fat formation, extra calories have to go somewhere in the body, and sending them somewhere else outside fat cells could be more detrimental to metabolism.

‘We know from other researchers’ work that liver and muscle are both bad places to store fat, for example.

‘We do think there are going to be opportunities for new treatments based on our discoveries, but not by simply blocking fat formation alone.’

Source: Daily Mail

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