New research shows that people who are overweight are more susceptible to the effects of stress.
Scientists have, for a number of years, been aware of associations between stress and the effects of inflammation which include weight gain and type 2 diabetes but there is still much to learn about how stress brings about these changes.
A team of researchers from Brandeis University in Massachusetts have uncovered another piece of the jigsaw in showing that people that are overweight are more sensitive the effects of stress.
The researchers grouped participants into two groups, those that were overweight and those that were not. Being overweight was defined as having a BMI of 25 or more. Two psychological stress tests were carried out on participants on different days. Levels of the inflammation marker interleukin-6 (IL-6) were collected from blood samples to measure the effects on the body of the stress tests.
It was noted that the overweight participants had higher levels of circulating interleukin-6 to begin. After the first stress test, increases in inflammation levels were modest and similar between the healthy and overweight groups. Following the second test, levels of IL-6 in the overweight group jumped to almost double the starting levels, whereas the participants with a healthy BMI experienced only modest changes in IL-6 again.
The results appear to show that being overweight increases sensitivity to stress in terms of increased levels of inflammation. The researchers also noted that the effects of excess weight and levels of interleukin-6 displayed a linear associatio, that is the higher the BMI, the higher levels of IL-6 observed.

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