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Dietary carbohydrate intake and mortality: a prospective cohort study and meta-analysis

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Moderate carbohydrate intake may result in good health

Turns out, eating carbohydrates in moderation can be optimal for health and longevity.

Low-carb diets that replace carbohydrates with proteins and fats from plant sources are associated with lower risk of mortality compared to those that replace carbohydrates with proteins and fat from animal sources.


The observational study of more than 15,400 people found that diets both low ( 40% energy) and high (70% energy) in carbohydrates were linked with an increase in mortality, while moderate consumers of carbohydrates (50-55% of energy) have the lowest risk of mortality.

The primary findings, confirmed in a meta-analysis of studies on carbohydrate intake including more than 432,000 people from over 20 countries, also suggested that not all low-carbohydrate diets appear equal–eating more animal-based proteins and fats from foods like beef, lamb, pork, chicken and cheese instead of carbohydrate was associated with a greater risk of mortality. Alternatively, eating more plant-based proteins and fats from foods such as vegetables, legumes, and nuts were linked to lower mortality.

Low-carb diets that replace carbohydrates with protein or fat are gaining widespread popularity as a health and weight loss strategy. However, the data suggested that animal-based low carbohydrate diets might be associated with a shorter overall lifespan and should be discouraged. Instead, if one chooses to follow a low carbohydrate diet, then exchanging carbohydrates for more plant-based fats and proteins might actually promote healthy ageing in the long term.

To address this uncertainty, researchers began by studying 15,428 adults aged 45-64 years from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. All participants reported consuming 600-4200 kcal per day for men and 500-3600 kcal per day for women, and participants with extreme (high or low) caloric intake were excluded from the analysis.

The researchers also assessed the association between overall carbohydrate intake (categorized by quantiles) and all cause-mortality after adjusting for age, sex, race, total energy intake, education, exercise, income level, smoking, and diabetes.

Results showed a U-shape association between overall carbohydrate intake and life expectancy, with low (less than 40% of calories from carbohydrates) and high (more than 70%) intake of carbohydrates associated with a higher risk of mortality compared with moderate intake (50-55% of calories).

The researchers estimated that from age 50, the average life expectancy was an additional 33 years for those with moderate carbohydrate intake–4 years longer than those with very low carbohydrate consumption (29 years), and 1 year longer compared to those with high carbohydrate consumption (32 years). However, the authors highlight that since diets were only measured at the start of the trial and 6 years later, dietary patterns could change over 25 years, which might make the reported effect of carbohydrate consumption on lifespan less certain.

In the next step of the study, the authors performed a meta-analysis of data from eight prospective cohorts (including ARIC) involving data from 432,179 people. This revealed similar trends, with participants whose overall diets were high and low in carbohydrates having a shorter life expectancy than those with moderate consumption.

In further analyses examining whether the source of proteins and fats favoured in low-carbohydrate diets–plant-based or animal-based was associated with length of life, researchers found that replacing carbohydrates with protein and fat from animal sources was associated with a higher risk of mortality than moderate carbohydrate intake. In contrast, replacing carbohydrates with plant-based foods was linked to a lower risk of mortality.

The findings showed observational associations rather than cause and effect. 

Considering evidence from other studies, the authors speculate that Western-type diets that heavily restrict carbohydrates often result in lower intake of vegetables, fruit, and grains and lead to greater consumption of animal proteins and fats–some of which have been implicated in stimulating inflammatory pathways, biological ageing, and oxidative stress–and could be a contributing factor to the increased risk of mortality. Whilst high carbohydrate diets (common in Asian and less economically advantaged nations) tend to be high in refined carbohydrates such as white rice, may also contribute to a chronically high glycaemic load and worse metabolic outcomes.

The authors noted some limitations including that dietary patterns were based on self-reported data, which might not accurately represent participants’ food consumption; and that their conclusions about animal-based sources of fat and protein might have less generalisability to populations which tend to have diets high in carbohydrates, but often consume fish rather than meat.

On the basis of these principles, moderate intake of carbohydrate (eg, roughly 50% of energy) is likely to be more appropriate for the general population that are very low or very high intakes.

The findings appeared in the Journal of The Lancet Public Health. 


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Police: Marlboro teen found "in good health"

Here are five things you need to know about crime in Dutchess County. Video by Jordan Fenster/Poughkeepsie Journal

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Talanoa session spreads healthy living message

More than fifty villagers from Safata District, turned up at the Alcohol and Cancer Free Talanoa Session, held at the Lotofaga, Safata Congregational Christian Church Parish. 

Coordinated by the Classmates Class of ’81, the initiative aimed to inform and educate people in the rural areas on the causes of non-communicable diseases like diabetes, hypertension, high blood pressure and the various types of cancers, and more importantly, ways to avoid them through healthy living.

Dr. Evangeline Reyes, who is currently one of the resident physicians at the Leulumoega Tuai District Hospital, conducted a presentation and through illustrations explained why the various health problems occur. 

Translating was Registered Nurse Patosina Tugaga who was assisted by the Lotofaga, Safata C.C.C.S. pastor’s wife, Lisa Perelini who used to be a Registered Nurse.

Rev. Feata Perelini said the participants were from various Christian denominations in the five villages of Safata District – Nuusuatia, Lotofaga, Vaie’e, Sa’anapu and Sataoa. 

Also present was C.C.C.S. Sa’anapu-uta pastor, Rev. Denny Epati, and retired C.C.C.S. pastor Rev. Alafau Amani.

During the Talanoa Session, Rev. Alafau Amani shared his journey to recovery after being bedridden because of excruciating pain in his legs and chest.

He recalled that the doctor he saw at the hospital advised him to consult Matuaileoo Environment Trust Inc. (M.E.T.I.), a non-governmental organisation which focuses on the environment, health, farming and education.


  • Participants at the Alcohol and Cancer Free Talanoa Session at Lotofaga, Safata Congregational Christian Church Parish.
  • Participants at the Alcohol and Cancer Free Talanoa Session at Lotofaga, Safata Congregational Christian Church Parish.


<!– Participants at the Alcohol and Cancer Free Talanoa Session at Lotofaga, Safata Congregational Christian Church Parish. –>

Participants at the Alcohol and Cancer Free Talanoa Session at Lotofaga, Safata Congregational Christian Church Parish.

Participants at the Alcohol and Cancer Free Talanoa Session at Lotofaga, Safata Congregational Christian Church Parish.

At M.E.T.I., he was introduced to a meat-free diet which also prohibited fish, milk and eggs.

“It was hard but I really wanted to be healthy, so I stuck with it,” he recalled.

Two weeks later, his weight dropped from 130 kilos to 112kilos!

“It was very encouraging and I kept at it,” he said, “and now I am walking and working in my plantation!” 

Several participants commented that after Dr. Reyes’ presentation on the various diseases caused by excessive eating of unhealthy food, they will watch what they eat.

“This has been a very enlightening programme and the message is quite clear to me,” said Egele Andrews. 

“We are what we eat. So if we eat healthy food, we will be healthy! So it’s entirely up to us if we want to be healthy! It’s like the program’s motto, ‘Healthy Self, Heal Thyself.’”

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12 Cholesterol-Lowering Recipes

High cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease and other lifestyle diseases. Before you reach for the meds, talk to your doctor about trying to alter your diet instead. These cholesterol-lowering recipes can help!

How I Lowered My Cholesterol with Diet Alone

When I was 25, I went in for a routine physical and learned that my cholesterol was shockingly high: in the upper-200s. This actually wasn’t the first time a doctor had flagged my cholesterol levels. High cholesterol runs in my family, and it’s something that I have dealt with on and off since childhood.

At this appointment, though, the doctor suggested putting me on statins. For the rest of my life. Did I mention that I was 25?

That suggestion seemed wild to me, so I pushed back, asking if I could have some time to address the issue with diet, rather than pills. I was pescatarian back then and decided to cut out eggs and dairy and cut back on eating fried foods. I eventually eliminated fish, as well, going 100 percent vegan.

At my three-month followup, my cholesterol was in the normal range, and 14 years later, it remains that way.

Of course, my success is only one case. While there is evidence that changing your diet can help get cholesterol under control, you should definitely be working with your doctor, getting regular cholesterol tests to make sure that things are improving.

12 Cholesterol-Lowering Recipes

If you want to try to control your cholesterol with diet, it can seem daunting, especially if you eat the Standard American Diet or tend to center your plate on meat in general. These cholesterol-lowering recipes are meant to jumpstart your journey to heart-healthy eating.

Cholesterol-Lowering Recipes

A plant-based diet was my key to lower cholesterol, and it turns out there are specific plant-based foods that are cholesterol-lowering powerhouses. These recipes incorporate those foods deliciously!

Instant Pot Baba Ghanoush

1. Pressure Cooker Baba Ghanoush

This flavorful eggplant dip is great for snacking with your favorite veggies. It’s a healthy spread to use in sandwiches and wraps. Eggplant is a great source of cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber. You may be worried about the teaspoon of salt in this recipe, but don’t panic! The salt helps “sweat” the eggplant, removing its bitterness. Once that process is done, you rinse the salt away. Be as thorough as you can, so you’ll end up with a low-salt dip.

2. Pumpkin Spice Overnight Oatmeal

Oats are also packed with soluble fiber, so this is a great way to sneak in some fiber goodness first thing in the morning. Instead of refined sugar, this recipe gets its sweetness from bananas, which bring even more fiber to the table.

3. Roasted Eggplant and Barley Salad

Packed with veggies, fiber-rich whole grains and heart-healthy olive oil, this cholesterol-lowering recipe works great as a side dish or an entree. Just omit the feta cheese or use homemade vegan feta. This salad also delicious the next day, so bring those leftovers for lunch!

4. Kidney Bean Curry

Beans are also packed with soluble fiber, making them excellent at keeping cholesterol in check. Serve this flavorful curry over your favorite whole grain for even more cholesterol-lowering power.

Whole Roasted Okra is simple to prepare and requires very little active cooking time. Roasting turns okra into a tender, tasty side dish without the stringiness that you associate with boiled okra.

5. Whole Roasted Okra

Unlike boiled okra, roasted okra isn’t slimy. But it is rich in soluble fiber, making it excellent at lowering cholesterol. Serve this up as a side dish with your favorite plant-based proteins. It would be lovely alongside the kidney bean curry listed above.

6. Oil-Free Sage and Walnut Pesto

Not only have nuts been proven to lower cholesterol by about five percent (if you eat two ounces per day), but they are also delicious. This oil-free, plant-based pesto is perfect tossed with whole grain pasta or as a spread on sandwiches and wraps.

7. Black Bean Soup

Black bean soup is one of my favorite cold-weather dishes. It can be a meal on its own, or you can serve it with your favorite whole grain and a side of veggies. Like kidney beans, black beans are rich in soluble fiber.

Fermented Almond Farmers Cheese

8. Fermented Almond Farmers 

Think that cutting dairy means no cheese? No way! Vegan cheese has come a long way, baby, and this almond-based cheese is living proof. What a delicious way to get that two-ounce serving of nuts into your diet!

9. Cashew Queso

I told you that cheese wasn’t off the table! This cashew-based queso is kid- and omnivore-approved and a great source of cholesterol-lowering nuts, olive oil and even some sneaky veggies. Serve it up as a dip with baked tortilla chips and veggies, use it as a spread for sandwiches or dollop it onto your next taco or burrito bowl.

10. Cinnamon-Apple Steel Cut Oats

Your pressure cooker makes fiber-packed steel cut oats in record time. On top of the oats, this recipe is sweetened with apples, which are an excellent source of cholesterol-lowering pectin. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can use this guide to translate the directions to the stovetop.

Packed lunches are easy with a container of homemade Chickpea Salad in the fridge. This recipe makes enough for three chickpea salad sandwiches - that's a lot of lunches sorted!

11. Chickpea Salad Sandwich

This recipe combines beans with the pectin-packed power of grapes! If you aren’t wild about buying vegan mayo, you can try this tofu-based vegan mayo instead. Tofu and other whole soy foods also have cholesterol-lowering benefits.

12. Sesame-Coated Tofu with Spicy Broccoli

Like I mentioned above, soy has also been shown to lower cholesterol, and this healthy tofu recipe is a great way to get more soy into your day. Worried that soy is bad for your health? Don’t! Dr. Holly Wilson does a great job busting the soy myths that the meat and dairy industries have been feeding us for decades.

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Healthy Living: Fishing for Clues

When it comes to diabetes, diet, exercise and medication can help some people avoid dangerous complications, but experts say there’s still a lot to learn.

In Healthy Living, see how researchers at Harvard Medical School are looking in a very unlikely place to improve human health.

Riddle says the cavefish in her lab have normal life expectancies, despite having high glucose levels and insulin resistance. 

Many of the fish have been in the lab for up to 15 years.



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A Health Chip Is Part of a Broader Move by Apple Into Healthcare

It’s no secret that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has designs on the healthcare market. At the device maker’s annual shareholder meeting earlier this year, Apple CEO Tim Cook signaled a broader interest in the field, saying that the company was in a “great position” to innovate because it wouldn’t be reliant on reimbursements from insurers or federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid. “The more and more time we spend on this,” Cook said, “the more excited I am that Apple can make a significant contribution here.”

Apple’s latest foray into the field may be its most ambitious yet. Apple’s Health Sensing hardware segment is looking to hire engineers to develop custom chips to process data from “health, wellness, and fitness sensors,” according to a job posting cited by CNBC. This could mark an even deeper move into healthcare by the iPhone maker.

Image source: Apple.

A chip off the old block

The job posting cited a need for “sensor ASIC [application-specific integrated circuit] architects to help develop ASICs for new sensors and sensing systems for future Apple products. We have openings for analog as well as digital ASIC architects.” An ASIC is a processor customized for a specific use or application.

The Apple Watch and iPhone already have a number of sensors, such as those to monitor heart rate and sleep quality, and the company has been working to develop others. Early last year, Apple was said to have a team of biomedical engineers working to create a noninvasive sensor designed to monitor blood sugar levels in those who have diabetes. Cook was reportedly wearing a next-generation watch prototype to monitor his own sugar levels, though a public version with those capabilities might still be years off. 

Developing a customized chip that better interacts with a variety of sensors could advance Apple’s push further into the health field.

A broad interest in heart health

Late last year, Apple showed the first indication of its growing healthcare ambitions when it introduced the Apple Watch Series 3. The new Watch debuted an improved heart rate monitor that provides wearers with more accurate heart measurements during workouts and can detect potentially life-threatening spikes in a user’s heart rate. 

Next, the company partnered with Stanford Hospital in a study to determine if the Apple Watch could accurately identify an irregular heart rhythm, which is often a precursor to a stroke. An earlier study sponsored by app maker Cardiogram showed the Apple Watch could detect atrial fibrillation — a potentially serious heart ailment — with 97% accuracy. 

Apple was also chosen as one of nine companies to participate in a pilot program with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to precertify companies creating software-based medical apps and devices. On the heels of that program, AliveCor’s KardiaBand electrocardiogram (EKG) reader became the first FDA-approved medical device accessory for the Apple Watch.

Image source: AliveCor.

Big tech’s interest in health is growing

Apple isn’t the only technology company expressing an interest in the healthcare field. Earlier this year, Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase announced a collaboration with an initial focus of providing employees with more cost-effective healthcare options.

Google parent Alphabet recently announced a sizable investment in start-up insurer Oscar, adding $375 million to an earlier infusion of $165 million. Oscar’s goal is to rely heavily on data in an effort to make healthcare less expensive and more efficient. 

Apple is gradually expanding the health-related capabilities of its devices. With sales of smartphones leveling off, a move into healthcare could provide the company with another potentially lucrative opportunity.

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Always worried about your health? You may be dealing with health anxiety disorder

This condition can interfere with your life, but it’s highly treatable.

Image: © XiXinXing/Getty Images

You spend hours on the Internet researching health information. When you get a scratchy throat you automatically think cancer — not a cold. And even when medical tests come back showing that you’re healthy, it doesn’t make you feel better. In the back of your mind you still feel like something is wrong.

If this sounds like you or a loved one, it may be health anxiety.

Health anxiety is a condition that causes healthy people to worry that they are sick — even when they have no symptoms, or minor symptoms like a scratchy throat.

“People with health anxiety for the most part tend to fear severe illness, such as HIV, cancer, or dementia. They worry far less about strep throat, twisting their ankle, or getting a cold,” says Dr. Timothy Scarella, instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. This fear that they have a serious illness can interfere with their daily life. It might lead them to seek out unnecessary testing, to waste hours in the doctor’s office, and to spend days consumed by worry. But it’s not only their own health that people with health anxiety may focus on. “Some people also worry excessively about their children’s health,” he says.

Health anxiety is a relatively common condition, known to affect some 4% to 5% of people. But experts believe it may be underreported and that the percentage could be closer to 12% — or even twice that, says Dr. Scarella. Unlike other anxiety disorders that are more prevalent in women, health anxiety appears to affect men and women equally.

Not all health worries indicate health anxiety

Being concerned about your health is not the same as health anxiety. It’s normal to be worried about your health from time to time. You may wonder if your stomachache is a sign of a more serious condition. If you have had a severe illness in the past, you may be anxious about an upcoming imaging scan.

“There is a difference — at least medically speaking — between a person who has no symptoms or minimal symptoms and is frequently worried and anxious about being or getting sick and a person who is worried about concerning symptoms,” says Dr. Scarella. However, he notes that anxiety about real health conditions can also become problematic.

People with health anxiety often misinterpret normal or benign physical symptoms and attribute them to something more serious. For example, if they were to compress an arm while asleep, instead of rolling over and shaking off the numb feeling, they might worry they were having a stroke. Symptoms produced by anxiety — which can include muscle pain, chest pain, heart rate changes, headaches, and dizziness, among others — can heighten existing anxiety about one’s health.

Is it health anxiety?

So how do you know if you are sick, or if you’re just anxious about being sick? Here are some telltale signs of health anxiety:

  • You have no symptoms, but still fear that you are sick.

  • When a doctor reassures you that you don’t have an illness or a test shows you’re healthy, it doesn’t relieve your nervousness.

  • You find yourself constantly seeking health information online.

  • If you read a news story about a disease, you start worrying that you have it.

  • Your worries about your health are interfering with your life, family, work, or hobbies and activities.

Most often, people with health anxiety have a pattern of this behavior that a primary care physician may begin to notice over time. “I talk to people who call their doctor five, six, or seven times a week,” says Dr. Scarella. “Every three or four months they may go to their doctor looking for an HIV test despite the fact that they haven’t had any new sexual partners or any experiences that would elevate their risk.”

Does testing ease the nerves?

While testing may seem like a quick, easy way to alleviate health-related worries, for people in whom health anxiety has become uncontrollable, testing rarely provides lasting relief. “Repeated testing is unable to reassure people with health anxiety; people don’t feel calmed when they get new information that disproves their fear,” says Dr. Scarella. Doctors often fall into this trap, thinking “What’s the harm in doing a test to reassure this person?” It seems like a reasonable approach. But, ultimately, no amount of testing ends the worry, Dr. Scarella says, and in fact, it may only serve to reinforce the anxiety.

While some people constantly consult their doctor and request testing, in other cases health anxiety causes people to avoid the doctor entirely, which can lead to treatable conditions going undiagnosed. “There are real risks in not going to the doctor — for example, not getting appropriate cancer screenings,” says Dr. Scarella. This avoidance can become very dangerous when someone has a real condition but is afraid to get checked out for fear of bad news—such as a person who has appendicitis but puts off going to the doctor.

Treating health anxiety

“The most important thing to know about health anxiety is that it’s a treatable problem,” says Dr. Scarella. Statistics show that anxiety disorders, in general, are vastly undertreated. Only 37% of people with anxiety disorders receive treatment, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

This may reflect the stigma related to these conditions, and in the case of health anxiety, people may not actually attribute their symptoms to anxiety, but truly believe they are sick. And they may not know that help is available.

For people who are suffering from health anxiety, it’s not helpful to tell them that their symptoms are fake or it’s all in their head, says Dr. Scarella. “It’s often more constructive to encourage them to look at what the worry is doing to their life,” he says. “How is it interfering with the things they enjoy?”

If you suspect you might have health anxiety, focus on what you’re losing. Would you rather spend several hours in the emergency room waiting for a test result — when you already had the same test two weeks ago — or do something you love?

Then seek an evaluation from a mental health professional. Your primary care doctor can provide a referral.

It’s common for people with health anxiety to have other mental health conditions as well, such as depression, other types of anxiety disorders, or post-traumatic stress disorder, says Dr. Scarella. Because of this, treatment may need to address multiple issues. Treatment options include medications and psychotherapy, often in the form of talk therapy, which can help you manage and move past your worries.

But ultimately, those who seek help are often able to overcome the constant anxiety. “This can get better,” says Dr. Scarella.

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Colorado hospital lays off 40 to improve financial health

Southwest Memorial Hospital in Cortez, Colo., laid off 40 employees amid financial struggles partially attributed to overstaffing, according to The Journal.

The layoffs, which represent a 9.5 percent staff reduction, took place Aug. 14. 

Tony Sudduth, interim CEO of the hospital’s operator, Cortez-based Southwest Health System, said in a news release obtained by The Journal that SHS board members saw the move as a necessary step.

“We do not take this lightly. Our employees are the heart and soul of our hospital, and this was a tough decision,” Mr. Sudduth said. “These organizational changes are unfortunately necessary in order to improve productivity and create greater efficiency in how we provide care to our community. Our board is confident that we will be better positioned to serve our hospital and its path to financial health for years to come.”

The layoffs primarily affect nonclinical administrative and support roles. Affected employees may reapply if jobs reopen, the report states.

Mr. Sudduth partially attributed the workforce reduction to overstaffing issues. He said a recent review showed staffing levels at the hospital exceeded productivity standards and best practices when compared with numerous critical access hospitals or similar hospitals in Colorado.

The hospital also recently conducted a Medicaid rebilling effort of 11,000 claims to try to increase revenue, but results were not what officials expected, according to the report.

Moving forward, the hospital plans to focus on areas such as revenue cycle, charge capture and materials management to turn around its finances.


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Why stress causes people to overeat

Stress eating can ruin your weight loss goals – the key is to find ways to relieve stress without overeating


There is much truth behind the phrase “stress eating.” Stress, the hormones it unleashes, and the effects of high-fat, sugary “comfort foods” push people toward overeating. Researchers have linked weight gain to stress, and according to an American Psychological Association survey, about one-fourth of Americans rate their stress level as 8 or more on a 10-point scale.

In the short term, stress can shut down appetite. The nervous system sends messages to the adrenal glands atop the kidneys to pump out the hormone epinephrine (also known as adrenaline). Epinephrine helps trigger the body’s fight-or-flight response, a revved-up physiological state that temporarily puts eating on hold.

But if stress persists, it’s a different story. The adrenal glands release another hormone called cortisol, and cortisol increases appetite and may also ramp up motivation in general, including the motivation to eat. Once a stressful episode is over, cortisol levels should fall, but if the stress doesn’t go away — or if a person’s stress response gets stuck in the “on” position — cortisol may stay elevated.

Stress eating, hormones and hunger

Stress also seems to affect food preferences. Numerous studies — granted, many of them in animals — have shown that physical or emotional distress increases the intake of food high in fat, sugar, or both. High cortisol levels, in combination with high insulin levels, may be responsible. Other research suggests that ghrelin, a “hunger hormone,” may have a role.

Once ingested, fat- and sugar-filled foods seem to have a feedback effect that dampens stress related responses and emotions. These foods really are “comfort” foods in that they seem to counteract stress — and this may contribute to people’s stress-induced craving for those foods.

Of course, overeating isn’t the only stress-related behavior that can add pounds. Stressed people also lose sleep, exercise less, and drink more alcohol, all of which can contribute to excess weight.

Why do people stress eat?

Some research suggests a gender difference in stress-coping behavior, with women being more likely to turn to food and men to alcohol or smoking. And a Finnish study that included over 5,000 men and women showed that obesity was associated with stress-related eating in women but not in men.

Harvard researchers have reported that stress from work and other sorts of problems correlates with weight gain, but only in those who were overweight at the beginning of the study period. One theory is that overweight people have elevated insulin levels, and stress-related weight gain is more likely to occur in the presence of high insulin.

How much cortisol people produce in response to stress may also factor into the stress–weight gain equation. In 2007, British researchers designed an ingenious study that showed that people who responded to stress with high cortisol levels in an experimental setting were more likely to snack in response to daily hassles in their regular lives than low-cortisol responders.

How to relieve stress without overeating

When stress affects someone’s appetite and waistline, the individual can forestall further weight gain by ridding the refrigerator and cupboards of high-fat, sugary foods. Keeping those “comfort foods” handy is just inviting trouble.

Here are some other suggestions for countering stress:

Meditation. Countless studies show that meditation reduces stress, although much of the research has focused on high blood pressure and heart disease. Meditation may also help people become more mindful of food choices. With practice, a person may be able to pay better attention to the impulse to grab a fat- and sugar-loaded comfort food and inhibit the impulse.

Exercise. While cortisol levels vary depending on the intensity and duration of exercise, overall exercise can blunt some of the negative effects of stress. Some activities, such as yoga and tai chi, have elements of both exercise and meditation.

Social support. Friends, family, and other sources of social support seem to have a buffering effect on the stress that people experience. For example, research suggests that people working in stressful situations, like hospital emergency departments, have better mental health if they have adequate social support. But even people who live and work in situations where the stakes aren’t as high need help from time to time from friends and family.

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