About Careers Internship MedBlogs Contact us
Medindia LOGIN REGISTER
Advertisement

Hair Cortisol Levels Indicate Long-Term Stress and Obesity

Font : A-A+

Highlights
  • Exposure to higher levels of cortisol over several months is associated with obesity.
  • The stress hormone cortisol plays an important role in metabolism and determining where fat is stored.
  • People who had higher levels of cortisol present in their hair tended to have larger waist circumference measurements, were heavier, and had a higher body mass index.

Hair Cortisol Levels Indicate Long-Term Stress and Obesity

People who suffer long-term stress may also be more prone to obesity, according to research by scientists at UCL. Stress levels were examined using hair samples which indicates the hormone cortisol.

Exposure to higher levels of cortisol over several months is associated with people being more heavily, and more persistently, overweight.

Advertisement


Cortisol, is a steroid hormone secreted by the adrenal glands located on top of each kidney. It is normally released in response to events and circumstances such as waking up in the morning, exercising, and acute stress.

Cortisol (along with its partner epinephrine) is best known for its involvement in the "fight-or-flight" response and temporary increase in energy production, at the expense of processes that are not required for immediate survival.
Advertisement

The Link Between Stress and Obesity

Chronic stress has long been considered a cause for obesity - people tend to report overeating, and eating comfort foods that are high in fat, sugar and calories in times of stress. The stress hormone cortisol plays an important role in metabolism and determining where fat is stored.

Previous studies looking at the link between cortisol and obesity relied mainly on measurements of the hormone in blood, saliva or urine which may vary according to the time of day and other situational factors. These studies failed to capture long-term cortisol levels.

This research involved 2,527 men and women aged 54 and older taking part in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, taking data over a four-year period.

In the research, the scientists took a lock of hair 2cm long from each participant which was cut as close possible to a person's scalp - this represented approximately two months' hair growth with associated accumulated levels of cortisol.

They also examined the participants' weight, body mass index and waist circumference and how hair cortisol related to the persistence of obesity over time.

Obese Adults have High Levels of Cortisol in Hair

They found that people who had higher levels of cortisol present in their hair tended to have larger waist circumference measurements, were heavier, and had a higher body mass index (BMI).

Individuals classified as obese on the basis of their BMI (>30) or waist circumference (>102cm in men, >88cm in women) had particularly high levels of hair cortisol.

"These results provide consistent evidence that chronic stress is associated with higher levels of obesity," said Dr Sarah Jackson (UCL Epidemiology and Public Health) who led the research.

"People who had higher hair cortisol levels also tended to have larger waist measurements, which is important because carrying excess fat around the abdomen is a risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, and premature death."

"Hair cortisol is a relatively new measure which offers a suitable and easily obtainable method for assessing chronically high levels of cortisol concentrations in weight research and may therefore aid in further advancing understanding in this area."

There were limitations to the study, which included the fact that the data was from an older population in which levels of cortisol may differ relative to younger adults and the sample was almost exclusively white. It is not currently known whether chronically elevated cortisol levels are a cause or a consequence of obesity.

More research is needed and once cause is determined, then targeting cortisol levels may offer a new method for treating obesity.

Reference
  1. Sarah Jackson et al., Long-term stress linked to higher levels of obesity, Obesity (2017).


Source: Medindia

Citations   close

Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Julia Samuel. (2017, February 24). Hair Cortisol Levels Indicate Long-Term Stress and Obesity. Medindia. Retrieved on Aug 15, 2022 from https://www.medindia.net/news/healthwatch/hair-cortisol-levels-indicate-long-term-stress-and-obesity-168086-1.htm.

  • MLA

    Julia Samuel. "Hair Cortisol Levels Indicate Long-Term Stress and Obesity". Medindia. Aug 15, 2022. <https://www.medindia.net/news/healthwatch/hair-cortisol-levels-indicate-long-term-stress-and-obesity-168086-1.htm>.

  • Chicago

    Julia Samuel. "Hair Cortisol Levels Indicate Long-Term Stress and Obesity". Medindia. https://www.medindia.net/news/healthwatch/hair-cortisol-levels-indicate-long-term-stress-and-obesity-168086-1.htm. (accessed Aug 15, 2022).

  • Harvard

    Julia Samuel. 2021. Hair Cortisol Levels Indicate Long-Term Stress and Obesity. Medindia, viewed Aug 15, 2022, https://www.medindia.net/news/healthwatch/hair-cortisol-levels-indicate-long-term-stress-and-obesity-168086-1.htm.

Advertisement

Advertisement
News A-Z
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
What's New on Medindia
Organ Donation Week 2022 - 'Take the Pledge to Save Lives'
Test your Knowledge on Heart Transplantation
Test Your Knowledge on Lung Transplantation
View all
Recommended Reading
News Archive
Date
Category
Advertisement
News Category

Medindia Newsletters Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!
Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

More News on:
Bariatric Surgery Obesity Bulimia Nervosa Palpitations And Arrhythmias Body Mass Index Stress Relief Through Alternative Medicine Stress and the Gender Divide Andropause / Male Menopause Liposuction Causes of Hair Loss 

Most Popular on Medindia

Drug - Food Interactions Daily Calorie Requirements Drug Interaction Checker How to Reduce School Bag Weight - Simple Tips Pregnancy Confirmation Calculator Blood Pressure Calculator Calculate Ideal Weight for Infants Sanatogen Accident and Trauma Care Find a Doctor
This site uses cookies to deliver our services. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use