Obesity in Girls Triggered by Stress Hormone

Obesity in girls may be triggered by stress, a new study suggests.  Depression can increase hormone levels in teenage girls, leading to weight gain and obesity.

Depression is a serious problem that can give rise to several health issues. Now, a new study claims that depression could increase hormone levels in teenage girls, leading to weight gain and obesity.

Studies have shown that the body generates higher levels of the hormone cortisol as a reaction to stress. Scientists have known that depression and cortisol are linked to obesity, but they had not determined the exact biological mechanism. The latest findings indicate that the increased levels of cortisol in young girls can affect their metabolism, and lead to weight gain.

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Dr. Elizabeth Susman at Penn State University noted that this is “the first time cortisol reactivity has been identified as a mediator between depressed mood and obesity in girls,” and noted that the findings indicate there are biological risk factors that are similar for obesity and depression.

The implications are to start treating depression early, because scientists have already determined that depression, cortisol, and obesity are related in adults.

Another study recently published in the Archives of General Psychiatry notes that obesity may be linked with an increased risk of depression, and that those who are depressed may have increased risk of developing obesity.

Researchers have not pinpointed the cause of the correlation, but one theory is that because being thin is considered beautiful in Western countries, being overweight may contribute to low self esteem, which could eventually result in depression.

On the other hand, the study notes, depression may increase weight over time through interference with the endocrine system or the adverse effects of antidepressant medications.