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Jul 14, 2014 07:40 AM EDT

Stressful Events Slow Down Metabolism Rates in Women, Study

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Women experiencing stressful events are associated with slower metabolism rates and rapid weight gain, according to an Ohio State University study.

Previous research showed a link between stress and other mood disruptions, and heightened risk of becoming overweight or obese.

For the study, researchers surveyed 58 women ( average age of whom was 53 years), about the previous day's stressors and then gave them a meal consisting of 930 calories and 60 grams of fat. They then measured the participants' metabolic rate, blood sugar level, triglycerides, insulin and the stress hormone cortisol.

The participants also completed questionnaires to determine their depressive symptoms, physical activity and stressful events on the prior day. About 31 women suffered at least one prior day stressor and six women reported no stressors.

The researchers found that participants, who reported one or more stressors during the previous 24 hours, burned 104 fewer calories than their rnon-stressed peers following the consumption of the high-fat meal. This slow burning rate could lead to weight gain of almost 11 pounds in one year.

The stressed participants displayed higher levels of insulin that results in fat accumulations and less fat oxidation, which means that fat that is not burned is stored.

"This means that, over time, stressors could lead to weight gain," said Jan Kiecolt-Glaser, professor of psychiatry and psychology and lead author of the study, in a press release. "We know from other data that we're more likely to eat the wrong foods when we're stressed, and our data say that when we eat the wrong foods, weight gain becomes more likely because we are burning fewer calories."

The research is published in the journal Biological Psychiatry.

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