Obesity puts people at risk of stress-related diseases

23 September 2014

A new study has found that overweight people could be more vulnerable to stress-related diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

The research at Brandeis University, published in the Brain, Behavior and Immunity journal, found that both overweight and obese patients display higher levels of stress-induced inflammation, compared to people who are in a healthy weight range.

Although normal inflammation is an important part of the body's healing response, runaway inflammation can contribute to chronic and life-threatening diseases.

The researchers measured interleukin-6 (IL-6), an inflammatory agent linked to stress, to analyse the participants during two psychological stress tests. They calculated weight on several factors including body mass index (BMI) and body fat percentage. 

On the first day of testing, both groups reacted similarly to stress, despite the overweight people having higher starting levels of IL-6. However, on the second day the overweight participants had IL-6 levels that were nearly twice that of the healthy group, whose levels remained constant.

The team observed that the higher a person's BMI, the higher their levels of IL-6 were.

Posted by Philip Briggs​

 

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